February 19, 2019

El Chapo Found Guilty on All Counts, Faces Life in Prison

El Chapo Found Guilty on All Counts, Faces Life in Prison


In 2012, he evaded capture by the F.B.I. and the Mexican federal police by ducking out the back door of his oceanview mansion in Los Cabos into a patch of thorn bushes. Two years later, after he was recaptured in a hotel in Mazatlán by the D.E.A. and the Mexican marines, he escaped from prison again — this time, through a lighted, ventilated, mile-long tunnel dug into the shower of his cell.

But following his last arrest — after a gunfight in Los Mochis, Mexico in 2016 — Mr. Guzmán was extradited to Brooklyn, where federal prosecutors had initially indicted him in 2009. He also faced indictment in six other American judicial districts.

The top charge of the Brooklyn indictment named Mr. Guzmán as a principal leader of a “continuing criminal enterprise” to purchase drugs from suppliers in Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Mexico’s Golden Triangle — an area including the states of Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua where most of the country’s heroin and marijuana are produced.

It also accused him of earning a jaw-dropping $14 billion during his career by smuggling up to 200 tons of drugs across the United States border in an array of yachts, speedboats, long-range fishing boats, airplanes, cargo trains, semi-submersible submarines, tractor-trailers filled with frozen meat and cans of jalapeños and yet another tunnel (hidden under a pool table in Agua Prieta, Mexico.)

The prosecution was years in the making and Mr. Guzmán’s trial drew upon investigative work by the F.B.I., the D.E.A., the United States Coast Guard, Homeland Security Investigations and federal prosecutors in Chicago, Miami, San Diego, Washington, New York and El Paso, Tex. The trial team also relied on scores of local American police officers and the authorities in Ecuador, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

The evidence presented at the trial included dozens of surveillance photos, three sets of detailed drug ledgers, several of the defendant’s handwritten letters and hundreds of his most intimate — and incriminating — phone calls and text messages intercepted through four separate wiretap operations.

Prosecutors used all of this to trace Mr. Guzmán’s 30-year rise from a young, ambitious trafficker with a knack for speedy smuggling to a billionaire narco lord with an entourage of maids and secretaries, a portfolio of vacation homes — even a ranch with a personal zoo.



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