SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK: Jurors in federal court in Brooklyn found Guzman, 61, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, guilty on all 10 counts brought by U.S. prosecutors.
Richard Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York said he expected Guzman to receive life without parole when sentenced on June 25. “It is a sentence from which there is no escape and no return,” Donoghue told reporters.
One of the major figures in drug wars that have cost the lives of around 200,000 people in Mexico since 2006, Guzman became an almost legendary criminal figure. He staged two dramatic escapes from Mexican high-security prisons and cultivated a “Robin Hood” image among the poor in his home state of Sinaloa.
Guzman sat and showed no emotion while the verdict was read. Once the jury left the room, he and his wife Emma Coronel, put their hands to their hearts and gave each other the thumbs up sign. His wife shed tears.
Guzman, whose nickname means “Shorty,” was extradited to the United States for trial in 2017 after he was arrested in Mexico the year before.
Though other high-ranking cartel figures had been extradited previously, Guzman was the first to go to trial instead of pleading guilty.
The 11-week trial, which featured testimony from more than 50 witnesses, offered the public an unprecedented look at the inner workings of the Sinaloa Cartel, named for the state in northwestern Mexico where Guzman was born in a poor mountain village.
“This trial has pulled back the curtain on international drug smuggling as no other trial has,” said prosecutor Donoghue.
The U.S. government said Guzman trafficked tons of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine into the United States over more than two decades, consolidating his power in Mexico through murders and wars with rival cartels.
Small in stature, Guzman’s smuggling exploits, the violence he used and the sheer size of his illicit business made Guzman the world’s most notorious drug baron since Colombia’s Pablo Escobar, who was shot dead by police in 1993.
Guzman’s lawyers say he was set up as a “fall guy” by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a powerful drug lord from Sinaloa who remains at large.
In a statement after the verdict, lawyers for El Chapo said they were “obviously disappointed” but respectful of the jury’s decision. “We were faced with extraordinary and unprecedented obstacles in defending Joaquin, including his detention in solitary confinement,” the statement said. A lawyer for Guzman said he would appeal the verdict.