El Chapo Trial Ends, Leaving Drug Lord Facing Life In Prison

By Beth Leipholtz 02/14/19

El Chapo's sentencing hearing is set for June 25.

El Chapo
Photo via YouTube

The three-month long trial of El Chapo, whose real name is Joaquín Guzmán Loera, came to an end on Tuesday (Feb. 12), the New York Times reports. Guzmán was found guilty of leading a Mexican drug cartel, the Sinaloa cartel, and aiding in smuggling tons of drugs into the United States. He was found convicted on all 10 charges he faced. 

The determination from the jury was given more than a week after the deliberations started in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, New York. During the trial, 56 witnesses spokes against Guzmán, 14 of whom had worked with him at one point. 

“Confronting this onslaught, Mr. Guzmán’s lawyers offered little in the way of an affirmative defense, opting instead to use cross-examination to attack the credibility of the witnesses, most of whom were seasoned criminals with their own long histories of lying, cheating, drug dealing and killing,” the Times reports. 

Guzmán’s sentencing hearing is set for June 25. He faces life in prison, though it is not yet determined where he will serve his time.

U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Richard P. Donoghue, spoke outside the courthouse. He stated that the verdict was a victory. “There are those who say the war on drugs is not worth fighting,” Mr. Donoghue added. “Those people are wrong.”

Guzmán’s lawyers say they plan to file an appeal. 

“When he came here he was already presumed guilty by everyone, unfortunately. We weren’t just fighting evidence, we were fighting perception,” said A. Eduardo Balarezo, one of his lawyers. 

Despite the fact that aspects of the cartel were uncovered and Guzmán was convicted, the Times reports that the Sinaloa cartel is still in operation. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration states that in 2016 and 2017, when Guzmán was taken into custody for the final time, heroin production in Mexico still grew by 37% and border seizures of fentanyl “more than doubled.”

Ángel Meléndez, the special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations, tells the Times that the outcome of this case drives home an important message to others involved in trafficking.

“One of the important things about this conviction is that it sends a resounding message,” he said. “You’re not unreachable, you’re not untouchable and your day will come.”

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at www.lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.