If you thought El Chapo’s cartel was out of commission, think again.
The Mexican authorities arrested Ovidio Guzmán López on May 17, 2019 and swiftly released him after his fellow cartel members took to the streets of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, with military-grade weaponry.
During his upcoming trial US prosecutors will paint the story of a lowly marijuana farmer who rose to create a smuggling empire with annual revenues of $3bn and which, at its peak, was allegedly responsible for 25% of all illegal drugs entering the US from Mexico.
THE GUARDIAN– The sheer abundance of discovery material alone is an indication that little about United States v Joaquín Guzmán Loera will be straightforward when jury selection begins in Brooklyn federal Judge Brian Cogan’s court room on 5 November.
As trial nears, Loera’s defense team say their client is being systematically denied due process.
Attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, a heavy hitting New York criminal defence lawyer who formally joined Guzmán’s defence team last month says:
“I’ve defended some difficult cases and some notorious clients but I’ve never had both arms tied behind my back like this. This is literally an inquisition. Constitutional fairness has gone out of the window because the government wants a show trial with a quickie conviction.”
The vast amount of evidence prosecutors have assembled to back up their story of Guzmán’s two decades at the top has now landed with the defence, a “dump” in their opinion, and assembled “with no rhyme or reason”.
If the government’s evidence against Guzmán is as good as it claims it is, why are they treating El Chapo in this fashion? “It’s making me think that maybe the evidence is not so good and they’re going to rely on the evidence of people who’ve spent their entire lives selling drugs and lying”.
“He’s in isolation 24 hours a day and his condition is deteriorating. He has no contact with other prisoners and very little contact with jailers, who don’t speak Spanish. He has no ability to speak to his family and gets two calls from his sister totaling half-an-hour a month.”
Lichtman, who is best known for winning an acquittal for John Gotti Jr on mob related racketeering charges, has amplified a sense of anticipation before the trial.
Guzmán’s wife, the former beauty queen Emma Coronel Aispuro, now attends pretrial hearings with the couple’s two young daughters, who wave and coo excitedly to their father from the gallery.
That space is now crammed with increasing numbers of media from Mexico and Central America, where Guzmán remains both reviled and revered.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that El Chapo deserves a fair shot at trial? Is a fair trial even feasible for a man who stands accused of such crimes as himself?
During an exclusive interview with TIME, the mother of notorious drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman shared what she thinks of her son.
Guzman, 61, is in New York City’s highest-security prison after escaping from Mexican prisons twice, once in 2001 and again in 2015. He is accused of trafficking drugs worth $14 billion into the United States. His is one of the biggest narcotics cases in U.S. criminal history.
Dozens of other Mexican drug lords who have been extradited to the U.S. in recent years have pleaded guilty – usually, as part of deals. Guzmán however has declared himself innocent. Due to his plea, a trial is scheduled for September in a federal court in Brooklyn. Until then, he remains in the New York City prison.
October 2015, Sandra Ávila Beltran, the revered “Queen of Cocaine” or “Queen of the Pacific” was released from prison.
She has spent the last seven years in confinement for money laundering, including two years in solitary confinement.
Avila, now in her early 50s, was arrested in 2007 in Mexico City with her Colombian boyfriend, Juan Diego Espinoza Ramirez, whom officials claimed was also a powerful drug-world figure.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Avila is believed to have been a rare figure — a powerful woman — in Latin America’s testosterone-saturated drug world, and her story has become a kind of genre to itself, particularly with the success of ‘La Reina del Sur,’ the wildly popular Telemundo telenovela to which Avila’s life is sometimes compared. (Fortune)
Sandra Ávila Beltrán at home. Photograph: Jonathan Franklin
The former Cartel queen pin gave an exclusive interview, her first in nearly a decade, from her home near Guadalajara, Mexico. In that interview she lashed out at political corruption in Mexica, mocked the futility of drug prohibition and praised Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
Ávila is the stuff legends are made of – one of the few women with access to the highest levels of cartel life. She has lived, worked and loved inside the upper echelons of the Mexican drug world since the late 1970s. At the height of her career, she showed a propensity to carry suitcases with millions of dollars in crisp $100 bills.
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