Things That Matter

El Chapo And Jeffrey Epstein Were This Latina Attorney’s First Clients And She Gets Hate Mail For It

Mariel Colón Miró was just four months out of law school, waiting for New York State bar exam results at the ripe age of 26 years old when she was scrolling through Craigslist looking for jobs. She stumbled upon a New York firm that was looking for a bilingual paralegal and went for it. It wasn’t until she got the job that she asked who her client was.

Later, in an interview, she confessed that the name Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera sounded familiar, but it was her trusty friend, Google, that gave her the full scoop. The Puerto Rican recalls “googling who this person was and I’m like, holy shit!” It was El Chapo.

Colón Miró just sort of “clicked” with El Chapo in person.

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The first time she met him, she was supposed to go with her boss, but they left their ID on the subway and couldn’t gain access to the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) that detains El Chapo. So Colón Miró went by herself. She sat across from him and said hello. El Chapo put his hand up against the glass, and she put hers up against his. They talked for three hours about their Latinidad and politics. “He is a very likable person,” she told New York. “It was like a click. This is meant to be my job. I felt very comfortable.”

She turned down a job at the Legal Aid Society after El Chapo asked her to join his defense team as a trial attorney.

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She had been visiting him nearly every day at MCC for months, going through the defense team’s strategy, every piece of discovery, and practicing for cross-examination. Senior attorney Jeffrey Lichtman cites Colón Miró as the only reason El Chapo trusted his defense team. “Chapo, not being American and familiar with our justice system, didn’t trust everyone who worked on the case. But he always trusted her,” Lichtman says.

Colón Miró sympathizes with El Chapo, who was kept in solitary confinement 24/7 and only allowed to speak with Colón Miró herself.

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He was forbidden from speaking to his wife and was only allowed one hour of television a day. Given his two prison breaks during outdoor time, he’s also been denied requests to go outside. “MCC is a very inhumane place, especially if you’re in the solitary housing unit,” Colón Miró told New York Magazine. “It is not a sanitary place. You can see rats walking around. It is nasty. Other clients have told me there’s mold on the water faucets, the AC is never clean. You can actually see the dust and mold.”

Today, she’s even helping El Chapo’s wife with her fashion line, which glorifies El Chapo himself.

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“El Chapo Guzmaán: JGL” will sell glow-in-the-dark cell phone cases featuring El Chapo’s signature, alongside hoodies and T-shirts. On top of that, she’s working on El Chapo’s appeal case, citing the effects of the supermax prison in which he resides, often known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” He’s allowed outdoor time now, but Colón Miró feels he’s been dehumanized. “I noticed he was sad. Completely different. His demeanor, his eyes. Even his hair — they shaved his head. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been convicted of the most heinous crimes or horrible crimes, I don’t think that anybody deserves to be treated that way.”

Colón Miró grew up in Puerto Rico and studied music business at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

She eventually enrolled in law school on the island and later transferred to Hofstra. Today, she sings in the Hillsong church choir, and tells New York that she sleeps “with a clear conscience.” For Colón Miró, her job is knowing that “we are all sinners. Some of us are sinners that happened to break the law.”

Colón Miró’s second client was Jeffrey Epstein before he committed suicide.

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Her clientele list has caused an onslaught of hate mail for Colón Miró who ask her how she’s able to represent convicted killers and sex offenders. “If you have a moral dilemma with that, then this profession is not for you. It’s easy to lose that human perspective in this profession. You think that detaching makes it easier to do your job, but it makes it harder for your client. You can’t ever lose that perspective, that empathy, that caring for them. I don’t ever want to lose it. I think that’s what distinguishes me,” she told New York Magazine.

Ritchie Torres Is Running For Congress To Give His Community The Representation It Deserves

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Ritchie Torres Is Running For Congress To Give His Community The Representation It Deserves

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Politics is getting particularly young, and we like it. From Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to State Senator Alessandra Biaggi to Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou to legislator Caleb Hanna, all of these young politicians are bringing a breath of fresh air to their policies and to the political discourse. Now, there’s another name to include in the list that is breaking barriers in more ways than one.

Meet 31-year-old Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres who is running for Congress. If he wins his next year, he will be the first openly gay black or Latino member of Congress.

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Do not think for a second that Torres, while young, is new to the game. Born and raised in the Bronx, Torress has been in the political world since 2013, bringing change on a local level but making a considerable impact. Currently, he is the chair of the Committee on Public Housing and is a deputy majority leader. He is also the chair of the Oversight and Investigations Committee. 

Next year, Torres and 12 others will seek to replace Rep. José Serrano in New York’s 15th Congressional District. His competition includes Assembly Member Michael Blake, Council Member Ydanis Rodríguez, former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Tomas Ramos, among others, Buzzfeed reports. But he is a frontrunner in the campaign, and here’s why. 

While Torres is running against several other Latino politicians, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has officially announced they are officially endorsing him and helping to fund his campaign.

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“In a crowded field, Torres has been able to build a strong and diverse coalition of support from labor groups, LGBTQ groups, and many of his own colleagues on the city council,” Rep. Tony Cárdenas, chair of BOLD PAC, told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “He knows the issues that keep Bronx families up at night — not just from his time as a city council member — but from growing up in the Bronx and being raised by a single mother. He’s proven to be the stand-out Latino candidate in this field, and BOLD PAC is proud to put our full support behind his campaign to bring home a victory next November.”

Of this endorsement, Torres tweeted, “Honored to earn the endorsement @BOLDDems which has been at the forefront of strengthening Latinx representation in Congress. The backing of @BOLDDems is a game-changer in the #SouthBronx, which is home to one of the highest Latinx populations in the US.”

The ambitious politician is half Puerto Rican and half Black.

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“I was raised by a single mother who had to raise three children on minimum wage, and I lived in conditions of mold and vermin, lead and leaks,” Torres said in his campaign video. “I remember asking myself, why would the city spend $100 million on a golf course, rather than on the homes of struggling New Yorkers like my mother. I knew at that moment that I had to fight for people like me.” 

Here he explains further why he chose to become a lawmaker and serve his community in the Bronx.

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“As a product of public housing, public schools, and public hospitals, I had a dream of fighting for my community in the hopes of building a better Bronx,” he said on his website. “At 25, against all odds, I became the youngest elected official in New York City, and the first openly LGBT elected official from the Bronx. I have represented Bronx communities on the New York City Council, and now I’m running to represent New York’s 15th Congressional District – because the Bronx needs one of our own to fight for us in Washington.”

His motto is: “If you do nothing, nothing will change.” 

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Torres is inspiring significant change already. Several of his staff employees are young people of color. One of the young Latinos that work for Torres said in a video published by the New Yorker that most kids that are from the Bronx work hard to leave the area. He said he remains there to give back to the community, which is why he works for Torres. 

Fun fact: he was named Ritchie after you guessed it: Ritchie Valens.

According to a 2015 interview in Newsweek, Torres said his mother wanted to name him Ritchie after she watched “La Bamba.” Well, that does it. He’s got our vote.

READ: This Is How Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Plans To Tackle Poverty In The US

With ‘El Chapo’ Behind Bars The Government Has Seized His Homes And Now They’re Putting Them Up For Auction

Things That Matter

With ‘El Chapo’ Behind Bars The Government Has Seized His Homes And Now They’re Putting Them Up For Auction

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Some would say that interest rates are so low at the moment, that it’s a prime time to buy a house. But you know what’s an even better reason to check out what’s on the market? Three words: El Chapo’s house. That’s right, amigas. Now that the ex-leader of the Sinaloa Cartel is definitively stuck with a pretty hefty life sentence, his goods are up for sale. His house and worldly possessions, that is. Not the drugs and other contraband.

We should probably mention: it’s not just one house being auctioned, it’s six.

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Imagine owning six houses. That’s definitely living the dream. Although, in Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán’s case, he was pretty much confined to his living quarters when he was on the run. Granted, we can make an educated guess that there’s probably only so much you can do, even in a super duper decked-out pad. Poor El Chapo had it pretty rough, what with having to hide from the authorities across six homes. Especially in this economy. Okay, okay, we can only get away with so much sarcasm.

Apparently bidding on the drug lord’s home in Calle Rio Humaya will start at $107,349.

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But, don’t be fooled: not all of his houses are worth the same. It’s thought that, altogether, his collection of houses should fetch at least a staggering 19.5 million Mexican pesos – or, 1 million US dollars worth. Despite their impressive price tag, it’s worth noting that each of the properties also come fully furnished, sporting things such as television sets, washing and drying machines, microwaves and even exercise machines! That makes them a bargain, right?

And sure, they’re a bargain for anyone who’s watched too many Netflix true crime specials.

Apparently one of the homes is sporting a secret escape tunnel underneath a bathtub. The story behind this fateful tunnel is that the Mexican military had originally barged into El Chapo’s home in Culiacán, Sinaloa, in the early hours of a mid-February morning, back in 2004. The bathtub tunnel is credited with being the reason why El Chapo was able to escape the military’s clutches through an above ground drainage system. That is, until El Chapo was eventually captured, just one week after the raid.

Rumor has it that quite a few of the kingpin’s houses are connected by tunnels.

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After all, tunneling seemed to be El Chapo’s favorite way to get around: he previously managed to escape from a Mexican prison in 2015 by tunneling out through a shower stall. Unfortunately, though, we’re yet to hear of any word about whether the laundry cart El Chapo used in his 2001 prison break is also included in any of the auctions.

All jokes aside, the real question is whether there will be a lot of interest in the properties, or not.

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And we’re not just talking about the price point. One of the homes was originally purchased by El Chapo for the mother of his son, Ovidio Guzmán López. While the property itself has some pretty substantial draws – we’re talking multiple bedrooms, and an outdoor backyard pool – it’s also connected to a guy who is still on the run, and is very much wanted by the United States. There’s a high chance he might not necessarily want to just let go of a three-storey home that’s worth over half a million dollars. Or other things like the two luxury ships and convoy pricey sports cars. You know, the Ford Mustangs, Jaguars, and Mercedes limousines.

And it may not entirely be up to Guzmán López. El Chapo’s kingpin status fell to his sons after his arrest.

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Word on the street has it that the Mexican government had arrested Guzmán López back in October, trying to deal a real blow to the cartels. However, the cartels retaliated by attacking a housing complex designed for military families. 14 people died during the shootouts, resulting in the government releasing Guzmán López to de-escalate the violence. With a reaction like that from the cartels over Guzmán López’s capture, it begs the question as to whether the sale of El Chapo’s homes may inspire copycat attacks during the auctions themselves, or on the new homeowners themselves.

Anyway, those daunting questions aside, here’s hoping that the Mexican government, who are responsible for the sale, see a proper payday from this series of El Chapo properties. The intention for the funds is to see them donated to a children’s music program based in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.