Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, the head of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, being escorted to a helicopter in Mexico City following his capture in the beach resort town of Mazatlan in February 2014. Picture: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, FileSource:AP
The jury in the sensational New York trial of Mexican cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has found him guilty on all counts relating to trafficking drugs into the United States.
The drug lord could now spend the rest of his life in a maximum security US prison after jurors spent six days deliberating over his fate.
After almost three months of testimony from more than 50 witnesses at Brooklyn’s US Federal Court, jurors convicted the notorious cocaine kingpin of running a criminal enterprise that smuggled at least 200 tons of the substance.
The 61-year-old was convicted of running the infamous Sinaloa cartel, which prosecutors said was the biggest supplier of drugs to the US.
Guzman — known for twice escaping prison in Mexico before he was extradited to the US in 2017 — leaned back in his chair as the verdict was read out to make eye contact with his wife, who flashed him a thumbs-up as she was escorted out of the courtroom.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, who has been a constant presence at court throughout her 61-year-old husband’s trial, was heard saying “nobody is dead” moments after he was found guilty.
She was reportedly offered a tissue just before the verdict was read out, and replied: “I don’t need one because I’m not going to cry.”
Guzman’s lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman said the conviction was “devastating” but he could “proudly say” the defence “left it all on the battlefield.” He said there would “of course” be an appeal.
US District Judge Brian Cogan lauded the jury’s meticulous attention to detail and said it made him “very proud to be an American.”
Guzman will be sentenced on June 25.
Former beauty queen Ms Coronel last week hired bodyguards after she was hit over the head by a photographer, raising fears for her safety. The mother of twins arranged the security through the Tillary Hotel a few blocks from the court.
Ms Coronel was at the centre of a media storm when she was caught with a banned mobile phone in the courtroom, and the prosecution accused her of “secretly communicating” with her husband. The judge eventually let her off the hook.
The 29-year-old told Spanish-language TV network Noticias Telemundo during the trial that her husband “did like” his notoriety “a little”. She laughed in court as one of his mistresses sobbed and told the jury she thought they were in love.
Jurors heard sensational testimony during Guzman’s trial about his rise to the top of the Sinaloa cartel. The prosecution claimed he was responsible for smuggling at least 200 tons of cocaine into the US as well as a string of murders.
Guzman pleaded not guilty on all counts, with his defence arguing that he was not the boss and was a “scapegoat” of the cartel, a corrupt government and US authorities who see him as a “mythical” figure, and the ultimate prize. He did not testify at the trial.
The charges relate to running a criminal enterprise, using firearms, distributing drugs and conspiring to launder the illegal profits, and could mean decades behind bars for the criminal mastermind.