Jury Finds El Chapo Guilty, Drug Lord Faces Life In Prison

February 12, 2019 - 3:53 pm
Categories: 

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) — A Brooklyn jury has convicted notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on all 10 counts for his leadership role in Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel.

As WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported, Guzman stared at the jury straight-faced as the judge read the guilty verdict. Somewhere along the line, defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman also dropped his head.

The verdict was reached on the sixth day of jury deliberations could put the 61-year-old behind bars for the rest of his life in a high-security U.S. prison selected to thwart another one of the escapes that embarrassed his native country.

Following the conviction, U.S. attorney Richard Donoghue said the trial provided a look inside a massive drug enterprise.

“It revealed that Guzman and his coconspirators were responsible for smuggling hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana into the United States,” Donoghue said.

Though, defense attorney Lichtman promised an appeal, and said he’s proud to represent the convicted drug lord.

“It's been an absolute honor and a pleasure – a honor, and I mean that – to represent Joaquin Guzman, because if you can't represent Joaquin Guzman as defense lawyer, you shouldn’t be representing anyone,” he said.

Over the course of the 11-week trial, members of the jury heard about drug dealing, murder and multiple prison escapes. Federal prosecutors put on more than 50 witnesses over three months detailing how Guzman's Sinaloa cartel amassed billions of dollars importing tons of cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana into the U.S.

RELATED: Prosecutor: Evidence Against El Chapo Is 'Overwhelming'

Jurors heard of Guzman’s multiple prison escapes before he was finally recaptured and extradited to the U.S. in 2017, where he had been in solitary confinement ever since.

Witnesses detailed assassinations and political payoffs, and how drugs were smuggled using tanker trucks, rail cars and even shipments of canned peppers.

Guzman’s lawyers attempted to paint the drug lord as a scapegoat. They focused in on a parade of cooperating witnesses who, they said, “lie, steal, cheat, deal drugs and kill people.”

RELATED: El Chapo Trial: Defense Paints Government Case As ‘Fantasy’

Most notably, Lichtman scoffed at the notion that he amassed a multimillion-dollar wealth over the course of three decades, calling it "a fantasy."

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan lauded the jury's meticulous attention to detail on Tuesday, saying it made him "very proud to be an American."

Guzman’s conviction is enough to put him behind bars for the rest of his life. He is set to be sentenced on June 25.

(© 2019 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)