Infamous drug lord 'El Chapo' found guilty in the US
Mexican crime lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, leader of the infamous Sinaloa drug cartel, was found guilty of all 10 federal criminal counts against him, after his trial returned a verdict in the US today. The 61-year-old faces a mandatory sentence of life of prison.
El Chapo, which means "Shorty" in Spanish, was accused of killing thousands of people and pocketing $14 billion from exporting cocaine and other drugs. He faced ten charges, including engaging in a criminal enterprise, use of firearms and international distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs.
The notorious drug lord was arrested with much fanfare in January 2016 after escaping from a high security prison through a tunnel five months earlier. His wife, former beauty queen Emma Coronel, was waiting for him on the other side. After Guzmán's recapture, he was extradited to the US, and the couple has only been able to communicate with each other through rigorously screened letters.
Since Mexico refused to seize Guzmán's assets, Coronel reportedly has access to "hundreds of millions" in cash and real estate. During his dramatic trial, the 29-year-old was a regular at the courtroom, and cackled with laughter while his mistress wept on the stand. After the verdict was read, Guzmán reportedly looked back at his wife and smiled, and she smiled back, placing her hand over her heart.
For two and a half months, the jury heard explosive testimony from Guzmán's former associates who cooperated in hope of reducing their sentences. They described ghastly murders, horrific torture and astonishing government corruption. Witnesses claimed El Chapo drugged and raped girls as young as 13, owned a diamond-encrusted pistol and gold-plated AK-47, and bought off former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto for $100 million. (Nieto denies this claim.)
One cocaine supplier, Juan Carlos Ramirez, also known as also known as 'Chupeta' or 'lollipop,' revealed he had extensive plastic surgery to avoid police capture. "I altered the physical appearance of my jawbone, my cheekbone, my eyes, my mouth, my ears and my nose," the former North Valley Cartel leader explained. The New York Post described his new face "a lizard-like look of stretched white skin, extreme cheekbones and a giant mouth."
Guzmán started out at the bottom of the Guadalajara Cartel, then created his own empire, becoming the most powerful drug lord since Pablo Escobar. Mexican authorities began pursuing him in 1993, when he was blamed for the assassination of the Roman Catholic cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo at the Guadalajara airport. He was convicted for the murder, and escaped from prison in a laundry cart in 2001.
Prosecutors said that 'El Chapo' was the biggest supplier of drugs to the US during his time as the cartel's leader. Reportedly he smuggled 200 tons of drugs across the border using various methods, such as tunnels, tractor-trailers, yachts, airplanes, cargo trains, and submarines. But now his reign of terror has finally come to an end.
Guzmán is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.