El Chapo Found Guilty On All Counts; Faces Life In Prison
A. Eduardo Balarezo, another one of Mr. Guzmán’s lawyers, added about his client: “When he came here he was already presumed guilty by everyone, unfortunately. We weren’t just fighting evidence, we were fighting perception.”
Not long after the jury got the case on Feb. 4, Matthew G. Whitaker, the acting United States attorney general, stepped into the courtroom and shook hands with each of the trial prosecutors, wishing them good luck. Over the next several days, the jurors, appearing to scrutinize the government’s evidence, asked to be given thousands of pages of testimony, including — in an unusual move — the full testimonies of six different prosecution witnesses.
Mr. Guzmán’s trial, which took place under intense media scrutiny and tight security from bomb-sniffing dogs, police snipers and federal marshals with radiation sensors, was the first time an American jury heard details about the financing, logistics and bloody history of one of the drug cartels that have long pumped huge amounts of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and synthetic drugs like fentanyl into the United States, earning traffickers billions of dollars.
But despite extensive testimony about private jets filled with cash, bodies burned in bonfires and shocking evidence that Mr. Guzmán and his men often drugged and raped young girls, the case also revealed the operatic, even absurd, nature of cartel culture. It featured accounts of traffickers taking target practice with a bazooka, a mariachi playing all night outside a jail cell and a murder plot involving a cyanide-laced arepa.
At times, the trial was so bizarre it felt like a drug-world telenovela unfolding live in the courtroom. Last month, one of Mr. Guzmán’s mistresses tearfully proclaimed her love for him even as she testified against him. The following day, in what seemed like a coordinated show of solidarity, the kingpin and his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, appeared in court in matching red velvet smoking jackets.
Toward the end of the proceeding, Alejandro Edda, an actor who plays El Chapo on the Netflix series “Narcos: Mexico,” showed up at the trial to study Mr. Guzmán. The crime lord flashed an ecstatic smile when told Mr. Edda had come to see him.
Although Tuesday’s conviction dealt a blow to the Sinaloa drug cartel, which Mr. Guzmán, 61, helped to run for decades, the group continues to operate, led in part by the kingpin’s sons. In 2016 and 2017, the years when Mr. Guzmán was arrested for a final time and sent for prosecution to New York, Mexican heroin production increased by 37 percent and fentanyl seizures at the southwest border more than doubled, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.