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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?