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Posted: February 12, 2019

El Chapo verdict: Jurors find Mexican drug lord, cartel leader Joaquin Guzman guilty on all counts

What You Need to Know: El Chapo

By Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Just over a week after it was given the case, a federal jury in New York found Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman guilty of several criminal charges, according to multiple reports.

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Guzman, 61, was found guilty of all 10 charges levied at him by prosecutors, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds and international distribution of drugs.

Update 12:55 p.m. EST Feb. 12: The verdict handed down Tuesday almost guarantees that Guzman, who famously escaped from a pair of Mexican prions, will spend the rest of his life behind bars in the U.S., the Los Angeles Times reported.

In court, Guzman appeared stunned as the verdict was read, according to The New York Times.

The newspaper reported Guzman is scheduled to be sentenced June 25.

Jurors deliberated for six days before finding Guzman guilty in the case. Jurors were tasked with sorting through what authorities called an “avalanche” of evidence gathered since the late 1980s that Guzman and his murderous Sinaloa drug cartel made billions in profits by smuggling tons of cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana into the U.S.

Update 12:49 p.m. EST Feb. 12: Jurors found Guzman guilty on all counts, The New York Times reported.

Update 12:15 p.m. EST Feb. 12: The verdict came eight days after jurors were ordered to begin deliberations, according to multiple reports.

The New York Times reported around 12 p.m. Tuesday that jurors reached a verdict, although their decision was not immediately announced.

Original report: A federal jury in New York will deliberate the case against Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman for a second day Tuesday after ending its first day of deliberations without reaching a verdict.

Jurors in the Eastern District of New York heard testimony over the course of 11 weeks that described a multinational, drug-smuggling enterprise that allegedly netted Guzman billions of dollars, according to multiple reports. Prosecutors say he is responsible for smuggling at least 200 tons of cocaine into the United States and for a wave of killings in turf wars with other cartels.

“He used trains, and he dug tunnels, and he used ships and planes,” NPR reported. “There were submarines full of cocaine and cash going back and forth between Mexico and South America and the United States.”

Guzman, 61, is facing 10 charges, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds and international distribution of drugs. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Guzman has pleaded not guilty. His attorney argued that his role in the infamous Sinaloa cartel has been exaggerated and that Guzman was not the true leader of the criminal enterprise. He claimed it was instead headed by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, an associate of Guzman’s who is now in his 70s, according to CNN.

“We don’t have to prove that the defendant was the ultimate leader,” federal prosecutor Amanda Liskamm said in court, according to CNN. “We don’t even have to prove that he was one of the top leaders. … Even under (the theory of Zambada as true kingpin) the defendant is still a boss. He’s guilty.”

Bruce Bagley, a University of Mimi expert on Mexico’s cartels, told CNN that Guzman’s capture and even his possible conviction are unlikely to make any impact on the power of the Sinaloa cartel.

“The bottom line is there are a lot of other people waiting in the wings,” Bagley told the news network. “The jockeying has already begun.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Elizabeth Williams/AP

El Chapo trial: Jurors to begin second day of deliberations

Elizabeth Williams/AP

El Chapo trial: Jurors to begin second day of deliberations

In this courtroom sketch, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, right, is seated at the defense table with his interpreter, in the U.S. trial of the infamous Mexican drug lord, in New York, Monday Feb. 4, 2019. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

            Mexican officials criticized after drug lord's second escape

Marco Ugarte

Mexican officials criticized after drug lord's second escape

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The first time Mexican authorities arrested drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, it took him more than seven years to escape. This time? Just one. (Video via Univision)

And as much as his most recent capture in 2014 helped the image of Mexico's anti-cartel efforts, his escape could prove disastrous. (Video via Government of Mexico)

Especially for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has already seen massive protests against him this year, sparked by allegations of corruption, often linking government officials to cartels. (Video via Government of MexicoCNN)

His government has made a big show of capturing cartel figures, which makes their escapes all the more painful.

El Chapo is probably the highest-profile cartel leader to escape prison in recent years, but prison breaks in Mexico aren't all that uncommon.

In 2012, more than 130 inmates escaped a major prison in northeastern Mexico and killed more than 40 other inmates. Officials linked the escapees to the notorious Zeta cartel, and nine guards confessed to helping them escape. (Video via Cadenatres NoticiasABC)

It's not clear if guards were involved in El Chapo's latest escape, but in a press conference, a security official detailed how he might have gotten out, and the plot is pretty elaborate. (Video via Telemundo)

"We found a tunnel a little more than 5 feet tall and 2.2 feet wide ... stretching for more than 1.5 kilometers ... and we found a motorcycle on rails which was probably used to remove dirt from the excavation and transport tools," the official said.

And Guzman has won over guards before. As a writer for The New Yorker explains, during Guzman's first escape, "He bought off the prison staff and enjoyed a life of relative luxury: He conducted business by cellphone, orchestrated regular visits from prostitutes, and threw parties for favored inmates."

That same writer today noted a tunnel seems like a painfully obvious choice for Guzmán, seeing as he, "*invented* the border tunnel. His cartel dug 100+ tunnels under the border." And, "He escaped marines last Feb thru a tunnel in his house."

The maximum-security prison where Guzmán was held is just half an hour from the major city of Toluca, which could make it a lot easier for Guzmán to disappear, yet again.

            'El Chapo' injured after evading authorities again

Mexico's Attorney General's Offi

'El Chapo' injured after evading authorities again

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Fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is believed to have been injured after law enforcement attempted to recapture him, according to Mexican authorities. (Video via Government of Mexico)

Officials say Guzman suffered injuries to his leg and face after the encounter. The military operation appears to have taken place in the western states of Sinaloa and Durango. (Video via Univision)

The Sinaloa governor confirmed military was in his state last week looking for El Chapo, and a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Times confirmed hundreds of people have fled villages in the area with one saying her home was hit by gunfire.

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Guzman is on the run after his second prison escape in July, when he fled through a mile-long tunnel underneath his prison cell. Thirty four people have been arrested in connection to his escape. (Video via Government of Mexico)

Mexico has offered a $3.8 million reward for information leading to his arrest, and the U.S. has offered $5 million.




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