Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the former leader of the Mexican Sinaloa cartel, has been found guilty of all 10 charges he was facing in federal court in New York.
“It is a sentence from which there is no escape and no return,” said Richard Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. The 3 month trial included 56 witnesses providing evidence, including 14 that used to work with “El Chapo.” The 10 crimes of which the 61-year old was charged ranged from ‘engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise,’ a ‘cocaine importation conspiracy’ to ‘use of firearms.’ It was estimated by prosecutors in the case the Mr. Guzmán made more than $US 14 billion through his 30 year involvement in the drug trade.
The Sinaloa cartel leader has previously been incarcerated, but has twice escaped from high security prisons. Guzman was imprisoned from 1993 to 2001 before escaping and spending the next 13 years expanding his cartel prior to his re-arrest in 2014. He then broke out from Altiplano prison in central Mexico in July 2015 via a 1.5 km long tunnel dug underneath his cell. He was re-captured in January 2016 in his home state of Sinaloa, before extradition to the US in 2017 to face trial.
It has however been suggested that the prosecution of Mr. Guzmán will do little to stem the entry of drugs into the US from Mexico’s cartels.
When questioned in a 2016 Rolling Stones interview about his responsibility “for the fact that there are so many drugs in the world” Mr. Guzmán replied “no, that’s false … Because the day I don’t exist, it’s not going to decrease in any way at all.”
This view was shared in “El Chapo’s” home state, where is has been reported he has been likened to as ‘a modern day Robin Hood.’ “Trafficking drugs will continue,” Mr. Gildardo Velazquez told Reuters in Sinaloa, Mexico. “Nobody can stop it. Even now that they’ll give him the life sentence they think he deserves, it’s not going to change anything here.”
A US Congressional Research Service last year estimated 150,000 homicides in Mexico have been related to organised crime since the Mexican government began more direct targeting of the drug cartels in 2006.
A hearing scheduled for June 25 in New York is expected to sentence the former cartel leader to life in prison.