The US indicted infamous drug cartel kingpin Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, a.k.a, “El Chapo,” in 2009. He was finally arrested in Mexico in January 2016. On Jan 19th of that year, Mexico agreed to extradite Guzman to the United States to stand trial.
Justice described Guzman, the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, as “one of the world’s most prolific, violent and powerful drug cartels” who controlled roughly 40%-60% of Mexico’s drug trade, earning $3 billion annually, known for bribing police guards, using intricate tunnels to evade law enforcement and escape prison cells.
After being held in custody for two years in the US, Guzman’s trial began November 13, 2018 in a Brooklyn court in New York City.
After going to great lengths, as well as great expense, to secure all aspects of the trial, to protect people involved in the proceedings, most specifically the jury, Guzman was found guilty on all charges on February 12 – “10 straight guilty verdicts on all 10 counts of the indictment,” the New York Times reported.
The jury’s decision came more than a week after the panel started deliberations at the trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn where prosecutors presented a mountain of evidence against the cartel leader, including testimony from 56 witnesses, 14 of whom once worked with Mr. Guzmán.New York Times
Guzman is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole, possibly in the federal super maximum lockup in Florence, Colorado. His sentencing is set for June 25.
The Washington Post reported last Friday via a VICE News exclusive report from VICE contributing reporter Keegan Hamilton that “at least six jurors ignored” US Distrist Judge Brian Cogan’s orders” against “perusing social media, surfing the Internet and discussing the discovered information.”
According to Hamilton he “learned of the revelations during a video interview with an individual who claimed to be an El Chapo juror.”
According to Hamilton’s report, one of the anonymous jurors on the Guzman trial reached out to him and “described what it was like [to] be part of the historic case.”
In an exclusive interview with VICE News, the juror claimed that at least five fellow jurors violated the judge’s orders by following the case in the media during the trial. The juror also shared details of the deliberations, the extraordinary security precautions that were in place, and the jury’s views on Chapo, his lawyers, the prosecution, and several key witnesses.
The juror requested anonymity “for obvious reasons” and declined to provide a real name, noting that the jurors didn’t even share their identities with one another. They did form friendships, though, and referred to one another by their numbers or used nicknames based on tastes and personalities. The cast included Crash, Pookie, Doc, Mountain Dew, Hennessy, Starbucks, Aruba, TJ, 666, FeFe, and Loco.VICE News
Hamilton writes that he, himself, was “a regular at the trial” and that the day after the trial ended he spoke to the juror “for nearly two hours on a video chat the following day,” so he “recognized the juror” from the courtroom.
What Hamilton describes of their conversation could possibly land El Chapo a new trial.
Judge Brian Cogan routinely admonished the jurors to avoid news coverage and social media, and to refrain from discussing the case with each other, so that the verdict could be decided only on evidence from the courtroom. Those rules were routinely broken, according to the juror: “You know how we were told we can’t look at the media during the trial? Well, we did. Jurors did.”
Part of my coverage of the trial included sharing news, analysis, and observations from the courtroom on Twitter. The juror said they routinely checked my personal Twitter feed and tweets from other journalists. “We would constantly go to your media, your Twitter… I personally and some other jurors that I knew,” the juror said.VICE News
Hamilton says that the judge told the jury after the trial ended they were “allowed to speak to the media, though he cautioned them against it.” The juror, Hamilton said, “reached out at the request of VICE News” to other jurors, “but said nobody else wanted to speak on the record,” therefore “parts of this juror’s account could not be independently verified.”
After the news broke.
On Friday, “after speaking with two former federal prosecutors and three law professors who specialize in juries and post-conviction issues about what’s next for El Chapo,” Hamilton said, “the takeaway: A new trial is highly unlikely but within the realm of possibility.”
In the most recent development, Hamilton now reports “El Chapo’s lawyers just filed a motion stating their intent to seek a new trial.”
Judge Cogan has granted the request from El Chapo’s defense for an extra 30 days to file a motion for a new trial pic.twitter.com/iOJmkuCB8Q— Keegan Hamilton (@keegan_hamilton) February 23, 2019
For the full content and context read INSIDE EL CHAPO’S JURY: A JUROR SPEAKS FOR FIRST TIME ABOUT CONVICTING THE KINGPIN; VICE News.
In related news, the US had now indicted two of Guzman’s sons.
The United States has charged two sons of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera with conspiracy to distribute drugs to be imported into the country, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
The indictment of Joaquin Guzmán Lopez, 34, and Ovidio Guzmán Lopez, 28, who the DOJ says are believed to live in Mexico, was unsealed last week.
On A Side Note (Opinion)
Just for laughs, remember this one?
El Chapo Speaks A secret visit with the most wanted man in the world; By Sean Penn. Rolling Stone