NEW YORK – Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord who pocketed nearly $14 billion as the decadeslong head of the murderous Sinaloa cartel, was found guilty Tuesday of all 10 federal criminal counts against him, including the top charge of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise.
There was no visible reaction from Guzmán, who faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. After the jury left, he waved and smiled at his wife, Emma Coronel, a courtroom regular who smiled back and touched her hand to her heart.
“Good, thank you,” she said when asked how she felt after the verdict.
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated roughly 34 hours over six days.
“We are obviously disappointed with the jury’s verdict in the trial of Joaquín Guzmán Loera but are respectful of the process and the jury’s decision,” defense attorney Eduardo Balarezo said. “We were faced with extraordinary and unprecedented obstacles in defending Joaquín …”
Guzmán, 61, faced 10 counts, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds, international distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs, and use of firearms.
Over two and a half months, the jury in federal court in Brooklyn heard testimony about unspeakable torture and ghastly murders, epic corruption at nearly every level of Mexico’s government, narco-mistresses and naked subterranean escapes, gold-plated AK-47s and monogrammed, diamond-encrusted pistols.
The prosecution’s case featured 200 hours of testimony from 56 witnesses. Fourteen of those witnesses — mostly admitted drug traffickers and cartel associates — cooperated with prosecutors in hopes of reducing their own prison sentences.
There were also surveillance photos, intercepted phone calls and text messages involving Guzmán, as well as exhibits of blingy firepower and bricks of cocaine that dropped with the force of potato sacks.
In contrast, defense attorneys called just one witnessand focused on undermining the credibility of cooperating witnesses. Defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said these witnesses had “lied every day of their lives — their miserable, selfish lives.”
Guzmán, once listed on Forbes’ Billionaires List, has long been a slippery and near-mythical figure. He escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001 in a laundry cart and again in 2015 through a tunnel. After he was recaptured in 2016, he was extradited to the US to face American federal charges.