Jurors are expected to begin their second week of deliberations on Monday morning in the trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who rose to fame as Mexico’s most feared drug kingpin and now faces life in prison if found guilty.
The 12 jurors began deliberating in federal court in Brooklyn last Monday, and were dismissed for the week on Thursday afternoon. The lack of a verdict in the first week seemed to please Guzman, who grinned and hugged one of his lawyers before he was led out of the courtroom.
Guzman, 61, is accused of trafficking tons of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine into the United States as leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, named for his home state in northwestern Mexico.
Guzman escaped twice from maximum-security Mexican prisons before his final capture in January 2016. He was extradited to the United States a year later. Small in stature, Guzman’s nickname means “Shorty.”
His defense has argued that Guzman was set up as a “fall guy” by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a drug kingpin from Sinaloa who remains at large. Prosecutors have said Guzman and Zambada were partners.
More than 50 witnesses testified during the 11-week trial, including 14 former associates of Guzman who had agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors.
The cooperators, most of whom had pleaded guilty to U.S. drug charges, offered detailed accounts of the Sinaloa Cartel’s inner workings and Guzman’s purported role as boss, describing his lavish lifestyle and penchant for murdering his enemies.
In a series of notes last week, the jury sought answers to legal questions and asked to review days of testimony from several of the cooperators. The notes suggested that the jury is poring over the voluminous evidence from the trial in detail, but offered no firm clues about how they might decide, or whether they have disagreements among themselves.
The jury asked to review the complete testimony of Zambada’s brother, Jesus “El Rey” Zambada, and his son, Vicente Zambada; of Guzman’s former top lieutenant, Damaso Lopez; and of the Colombian drug trafficking brothers Jorgue and Alex Cifuentes. They also asked to review a portion of the testimony from Juan Carlos “Chupeta” Ramirez, a former Colombian kingpin who said he was Guzman’s top cocaine supplier for years.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; editing by Grant McCool)