Published: Wed, February 13, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Jury reaches verdict in El Chapo trial

Jury reaches verdict in El Chapo trial

After being escorted off the plane at MacArthur Airport on Long Island in shackles, Guzman, 61, then sat in a chair in a hangar surrounded by USA federal agents looking stunned and scared for his life - and appeared to wipe a tear from his eyes.

The 61-year-old was found guilty today by a NY court of operating the huge criminal enterprise and is expected to be given life in prison.

One of the major figures in Mexican drug wars that have roiled the country since 2006, Guzman was extradited to the United States for trial in 2017 after he was arrested in Mexico the year before.

The legend of Guzman was burnished by two dramatic escapes he made from Mexican prisons and by a Robin Hood image he cultivated among Sinaloa's poor.

Guzman, who has been held in solitary confinement for the last two years, pleaded not guilty to the slew of charges, thus beginning his long-waited criminal trial in November.

Guzman and his drug cartel reportedly made billions in profits by smuggling tons of cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana into the U.S. It was an operation that dated back to the 1980s.

In this courtroom drawing, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, second from left, seated with his defense attorneys, listens to testimony that was read back to the jury, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in NY.

The most detailed evidence against Guzman came from more than a dozen former associates who struck deals to cooperate with USA prosecutors. For instance, they saw proof of drugs pouring into the US through secret tunnels or hidden in tanker trucks or the undercarriage of passenger cars.

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Deliberations were complicated by the trial's vast scope.

The notorious former leader of the dreaded Sinaloa Cartel has been the subject of numerous TV shows and films, including Univision's series El Chapo, a recent Netflix documentary with the same title that was ridiculed by Sean Penn, Netflix's Narcos: Mexico and documentary The Day I Met El Chapo with Kate del Castillo.

The trial cast a harsh glare on the corruption that allowed the cartel to flourish.

The most shocking allegation came from Guzman's former top aide Alex Cifuentes, who accused former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto of taking a $100 million bribe from Guzman.

While the trial was dominated by Guzman's near-mythical persona as an outlaw who carried a diamond-encrusted handgun and stayed one step ahead of the law, the jury never heard from Guzman himself, except when he told the judge he wouldn't testify. "Amigo!" he said to a cartel distributor in Chicago.

One of the trial's most memorable tales came from girlfriend Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez, who testified she was in bed in a safe house with an on-the-run Guzman in 2014 when Mexican marines started breaking down his door.

Asked what he was wearing, she replied: "He was naked. He left us behind". After he was recaptured in 2016, he was extradited to the U.S. to face American federal charges. "In front of you".

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