After many years of evading the law, the infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, has finally been brought to trial in the United States. As the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, which controls about 40 to 60 percent of Mexico’s drug trade and earns up to $3 billion annually, El Chapo has been distributing marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs through an intricate system of tunnels for decades. But this isn’t the first time El Chapo has been captured.
He’s escaped prison on multiple occasions, including once in 2001 where he escaped in a laundry cart and again in 2014 through an underground tunnel that was dug below the shower of his cell. \This time, with piles of evidence in the form of wiretapped phone calls and surveillance photos against him, El Chapo was found guilty once again on charges of being the leader of a “continuing criminal enterprise” and for smuggling tons of drugs across the US border.
A significant portion of the drug leader’s trial was consumed by the testimonies of 56 witnesses, whose accusations captured the attention of the media and horrified the public. A man who claimed he was El Chapo’s right-hand man reported that the leader drugged and raped girls as young as 13 years old. Another person reported witnessing El Chapo torture a member of a rival drug cartel who was burned with an iron, locked in a wooden structure for days, shot with a handgun, and dumped into a hole where he was buried alive. In addition, a prominent witness by the name of Jesus Zambada testified that El Chapo had killed the brother of another cartel leader because he didn’t shake his hand. But the kingpin didn’t discriminate. When the leader’s cousin lied to him about being out of town, El Chapo had him assassinated, and later, one of his mistresses recalled him saying that “whoever betrayed him, they would die. Whether they were family or women, they were going to die.” However, one of the most shocking news from the trial claimed that the Sinaloa cartel had bribed Mexico’s former president, Enrique Pena Nieto, $100 million as well as the Mexican police, the military, law enforcement officers, generals, and “almost the entire congress of Colombia” to carry out his operations without being held accountable.
Unfortunately, recent news suggests that the drug leader’s case may be re-tried, as an anonymous juror reported that several members of the jury had disobeyed the judge’s instructions to ignore outside information and media coverage of the trial. In response to the misconduct, one of El Chapo’s lawyers stated that it was “deeply concerning and distressing” and that if these claims were true, “Joaquín did not get a fair trial.” On the other hand, the fact that the jury in this highly publicized case had reached the guilty decision was heartening to many. “One of the important things about this conviction is that it sends a resounding message,” said Ángel Meléndez, a special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations. “You’re not unreachable, you’re not untouchable and your day will come.”