Joaquín Guzmán, the feared Mexican drug lord known worldwide as “El Chapo,” has been found guilty of all 10 charges in his New York trial. The convictions follow a 42-day trial and include leading a criminal enterprise; drug trafficking of heroin, cocaine and other drugs; the use of firearms; and money laundering.
Convicted by a jury of eight women and four men, he could face life in a U.S. maximum-security federal prison and the forfeiture of some $14 billion.
Brooklyn U.S. District Court Judge Brian Cogan praised the jury, saying he has never seen a jury so committed to details in his 13 years on the bench. The jurors had asked 15 questions during their six-day deliberations and delivered an eight-page verdict sheet.
New York police and others are on high alert outside and around the Brooklyn courthouse, where authorities held an active-shooter drill Monday to prepare for the verdict.
“This trial has pulled back the curtain on international drug dealing in a way that no other trial has,” Richard Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters outside the courtroom. “[Guzmán’s] conviction is a victory for the American people, who have suffered so long and so much while Guzmán made billions pouring poison over our southern border. This conviction is a victory for the Mexican people, who have lost more than 100,000 lives in drug-related violence. This conviction is a victory for every family who has lost a loved one to the black hole of addiction.”
The notorious former leader of the dreaded Sinaloa Cartel has been the subject of numerous TV shows and films, including Univision’s series El Chapo, a recent Netflix documentary with the same title that was ridiculed by Sean Penn, Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico and documentary The Day I Met El Chapo with Kate del Castillo.
Guzmán — whose nickname translates to “Shorty” — is suspected of trafficking more than 440,000 pounds of drugs into the U.S. via tunnels, submarines, planes, trucks and boats. He had been caught and jailed multiple times in the past, only to make brazen escapes, helping to solidify his near-mythical status in the criminal underworld. Perhaps most famously, he escaped a Mexican prison in 2015 through an elaborate tunnel that included an adapted motorcycle on rails.
He was recaptured several months later — his third arrest in 23 years — in the Sinaloa coastal city of Los Mochis and extradited to the U.S. about a year later.
“There are those who say the war on drugs is not worth fighting,” Donoghue added. “Those people are wrong.”