Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has been convicted after a three-month-long trial of running a smuggling operation. El Chapo was involved in many things including grisly killings, political payoffs and even hiding cocaine in jalapeño cans. To top it off he escaped prison naked with his mistress via a tunnel.
El Chapo has enough evidence of drug trafficking and conspiracy convictions, capable of putting the 61-year-old in maximum-security U.S. prison for decades. The New York jurors, who remain anonymous, reached a verdict in just six days, after sorting through an “avalanche” of evidence, as authorities called it. Evidence on El Chapo goes back to the late 1980s, in which he and his murderous Sinaloa drug cartel made billions in profits by smuggling tons of cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana into the U.S.
According to the evidence, drugs were brought to the U.S. via secret tunnels or hidden in tanker trucks. Drugs were also concealed in the “undercarriage of passenger cars and packed in rail cars passing through legitimate points of entry — suggesting that a border wall wouldn’t be much of a worry,” CNBC reports.
Many testified in El Chapo’s case, including former Sinaloa lieutenants, a computer encryption expert and a Colombian cocaine supplier, who went through major plastic surgery to disguise himself. A Sinaloa insider claims Mexican workers were reportedly getting contact highs while packing the cocaine into thousands of jalapeño cans.
Another testified that El Chapo would occasionally act as his own “sicario, or hitman, providing an example of when a Sinaloan who dared to work for another cartel was punished by being kidnapped, beaten and shot. He then had his men bury the victim while he was reportedly still alive and “gasping for air.”
The defense case lasted only half an hour, while Guzman’s lawyers did not deny his crimes. Defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman advised the jury in closing arguments to not believe these government witnesses who “lie, steal, cheat, deal drugs and kill people.”
El Chapo’s mistress, Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez, provided one of the trial’s most memorable tales when she testified that she was in bed in a safe house with Guzman (while he was on the run in 2014) when Mexican marines began breaking down his door. According to Lopez, Guzman led her to a trap door beneath a bathtub that led to a tunnel, allowing the two to escape. “He was naked. He took off running. He left us behind.”
That is not the first time Guzman has escaped. He escaped from jail in 2001 by hiding in a laundry bin. From there, “crooked” police officers escorted him into Mexico City before retreating to one of his mountainside hideaways. Then in 2014, he escaped yet again, this time through a mile-long lighted tunnel on a motorcycle on rails.
Andrea Goldbarg notes that even when El Chapo was recaptured in 2016, he was plotting yet another escape. “Why? Because he is guilty and he never wanted to be in a position where he would have to answer for his crimes,” she told the jury. “He wanted to avoid sitting right there. In front of you.”