Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman Found Guilty on All 10 Criminal Counts
By Sylvia Longmire
Columnist, In Homeland Security
After a 2 ½ month-long trial, 200 hours of testimony from 56 witnesses, and a mountain of evidence – a jury in New York found former Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán guilty on 10 federal criminal counts levied against him. The jury, composed of eight women and four men, deliberated for roughly 34 hours over six days, according to CNN. The criminal charges included the manufacture and distribution of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana – along with conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds.
Guzmán’s sentencing is set for June 25, but his case is far from over. Defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said they plan to file an appeal on a number of issues. This is not unexpected, but his chances of successfully appealing any of the charges are slim. The maximum sentence Guzmán can receive is life in prison without the possibility of parole.
El Chapo, The President and A Beauty Queen
There was a considerable amount of drama surrounding El Chapo’s trial, both inside and outside the courtroom. One witness made the scandalous claim that he paid former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto $100 million to stop the manhunt for Guzman. Much attention has also been paid to Guzman’s former beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel, from her designer clothing choices to her facial expressions and tears shed during court proceedings. She is strongly suspected of being involved in her husband’s successful escape from prison in 2014. However, she will not be charged with any crime because in Mexico, it is neither illegal to escape from prison nor to help someone else escape.
Mixed Emotions in Mexico
Guzman’s conviction will likely be met with mixed emotions in Mexico. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s new president, may be ambivalent about the conviction. On one hand, the pending incarceration of one of the most notorious drug lords in Mexican history is something to be celebrated. However, it is a reminder that the Mexican government was unable to apprehend El Chapo without the aid of American agents, and his conviction and pending incarceration may not have occurred without his extradition to the United States.
The same ambivalence is likely occurring among the Mexican people. While most Mexicans — especially those who have been victims to or witnesses of violence and other horrors associated with the Sinaloa cartel — are probably happy to see him facing justice, there are plenty of people viewing his guilty verdict as a tragedy. Particularly in Guzman’s home state of Sinaloa, he has developed an almost cult-like following, with songs known as narco ballads singing his praises and telling stories of his heroism while evading the authorities. Many Mexican adolescents strive to be like their narco heroes, with their gold-plated guns, fancy clothes and shoes, and beautiful female companions.
Sinaloa Cartel Ops Continue
Just as El Chapo fought Mexican authorities for so many years, his lawyers say he is prepared to fight the conviction, which Guzmán supposedly expected. In a news conference, the attorneys stated they would “focus on the extradition process that brought the kingpin to Brooklyn for trial and on the prosecution’s efforts to restrict their cross examinations of witnesses,” according to the New York Times. In the meantime, Sinaloa cartel operations continue under the control of Guzman’s sons. According to the DEA, Mexican heroin production increased by 37 percent and fentanyl seizures at the U.S.-Mexico border more than doubled in the two years following Guzmán’s final arrest.