Federal Jury Finds Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Guilty On All 10 Counts, Faces Life In Prison
A federal jury on Tuesday found Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera guilty after a three-month trial that exposed the crime-ridden inner workings of the Mexican drug lord. Guzman, 61, now faces the possibility of life in prison after jurors in New York convicted the former leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel of drug trafficking, weapons charges and operating a criminal organization. The verdict is a culmination of decades in being regarded as a folk hero in Mexico that was notorious for his prison escapes and murder operations against competitors.
As the jury read out the verdict, there was no visible reaction from El Chapo who now faces life in prison.
NEW: U.S. attorney says conviction of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman expected to bring a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 12, 2019
A panel of eight women and four men, who served in anonymity, delivered the verdict on the sixth day of deliberations. Judge Brian M. Cogan read the jury’s charge list in an open court with 10 straight guilty verdicts on all 10 counts of the indictment. As the verdict was being read, the courtroom fell silent as Guzman showed no emotions to hearing the jury’s decision. Guzman, who escaped a Mexican prison twice, is due to be sentenced on June 25. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue told reporters the significance of the verdict.
“It is a sentence from which there is no escape, and no return,” Donoghue said during a press conference. “This conviction is a victory for the American people, who have suffered so long and so much while Guzman made billions pouring poison over our southern border.”
The trial shed light on one of the world’s most notorious crime lords.
Breaking: El Chapo has been convicted.
— Complex (@Complex) February 12, 2019
The trial wasn’t only stunning in who was being put on trial but the circumstances were attention-grabbing. From the start, there was high media scrutiny and extensive security measures for the trial. Prosecutors called upon 56 witnesses, 14 of them who were former associates of Guzman, who cooperated with government officials in hope of gaining leniency on their own crimes. Allegations of bribery with the former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, accusations of underage rape and revealing testimonies only heightened the attention of the trial.
The trial revealed the truly shocking nature and the rise of what quickly became on the world’s most dangerous drug organizations, the Sinaloa cartel. The cartel would make millions of dollars by smuggling cocaine and heroin to cities across the U.S from the late 1980s into the 2000s. Guzman would rise to fame overnight for his peculiar ways of transporting drugs through cars, planes, and tunnels under the U.S.-Mexican border.
Even if El Chapo is behind bars, the Sinaloa Cartel is still a force in the deadly drug wars in Mexico.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) February 12, 2019
The drug war in Mexico, which killed about 100,000 people over more than a decade, has pitted the cartels against each other. The long fighting has led to countless deaths of innocent civilians and tourists in Mexico. While the verdict of Guzman is a pivotal moment in the longstanding fight against the U.S and drug trafficking, the Sinaloa Cartel still has the biggest U.S. distribution presence.
According to Reuters, drug seizures at the U.S. southern border have only increased to more than nine times in volume, to at least 82,000 pounds this past year. This highlights the growing dangers and reality of the ongoing drug war happening in Mexico even without Guzman at the helm. Next at the helm of the Sinaloa Cartel is Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, Guzman’s long-standing partner who is believed to have taken over operations since Guzman’s capture in 2016.
Yet, there is solace and progress in having what was one of the most sought after criminals in the world finally behind bars. For many families whose loved one were killed, this day brings some justice and closure.
“Today is a historic day for American justice,” Ángel Meléndez, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations, told the New York Times. “Today we say American justice has been served, ending his days of evading authorities, ending his violent acts all in support of his efforts to conduct drug trafficking in the United States.”