El Chapo trial: Four things we learned during week three of the notorious drug kingpin’s hearing

Guzmen - who was once named as one of the richest people in the world - is showing up to court wearing off-the-rack suits

Clark Mindock
New York
Friday 30 November 2018 22:18
Comments
'El Chapo' Guzman's legal team arrives at court

Week three of the high-profile trial of alleged drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has brought fresh allegations and intrigue as the government makes its case against the man accused of running a multi-billion dollar drug empire.

Guzman is facing trial in New York City after being extradited from Mexico, where he managed to escape federal prisons on two occasions.

The trial has testimony of alleged assassination attempts, alleged bribes, and huge shipments of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico and into the US. Meanwhile, Guzman, who was once on the Forbes list of richest people in the world, is now wearing cheap suits as he faces trial in Brooklyn.

Former friend and associate Miguel Angel Martinez told court Guzman tried to kill him

Martinez, a former cartel member, testified that he believes Guzman attempted to have him killed four times in a variety of ways since 1998.

At the time of the murder attempts, Martinez was in Mexican jails and said he was fighting extradition to the United States on drug trafficking charges. The attacks included several stabbings that Martinez managed to survive, and one incident in which allegedly grenades were detonated in his cell that he also survived.

The sensitive nature of the testimony was met with a rare barring of courtroom sketches of the witness, who has been under US protection and custody for 18 years now, and said that he remained loyal to the alleged drug kingpin until the murder attempts were made.

During his testimony, Martinez said that he recalled hearing other inmates in jails sharpening shivs or knives before attacks, and that other inmates had asked him his shoe size in anticipation of vacant kicks following his death. On the night before the attack that involved grenades, he said, a band played a Mexican corrido — or story song — outside of the prison walls with lyrics saying “to live your life intensely, because the only thing you take with you is a bunch of soil”.

Government witness alleges massive bribe payouts — and cocaine shipments

When business was good, cocaine shipments from Columbia to Mexico were so big that Guzman was able to pay multi-million dollar bribes to a powerful police commander, Martinez told court on Monday.

The shipments were called “parties” by Guzman, and the largest shipment Martinez said he ever saw came on a fleet of 10 planes that were carrying hundreds of kilos and landed on a hidden airstrip. Martinez worked for Guzman in the 1980s and 1990s.

Fellow drug kingpin Juan Carlos Ramírez-Abadía testified against Guzman

Ramíres-Abadía, the former leader of the Columbia Norte Valle cocaine cartel, testified that his organisation used Guzman’s organisation to smuggle drugs north through Mexico and into the United States after they first met in 1990s. Guzman's lawyers have said the man known as El Chapo was not part of the leadership of the Sinaloa cartel, but is being framed.

Ramíres-Abadía testified that the two struck up a deal after meeting, with Guzman taking charge of the drug smuggling into the United States and its various cities. Guzman argued, the witness said, that he was so fast at smuggling the drugs that he deserved a larger cut of the proceeds.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

The witness was captured in Brazil in 2007 in spite of repeated plastic surgeries that he hoped would confuse those chasing him down. He was extradited to the US that year, and pleaded guilty on charges of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute cocaine into the US. In a 2004 indictment, Ramíres-Abadía and alleged co-conspirators were charged with transporting more than 500,000 kilos of cocaine worth more than $10 billion through Mexico and into the US.

Guzman is wearing K-Mart suits

Over the years, Guzman has been seen wearing some pretty flashy threads, but he has taken a much different approach for the federal trial where he and his lawyers are arguing that he has been framed.

He has reportedly opted to wear off-the-rack suits during his trial, and his defence attorney have said they bring and pick up the suits for cleaning for their client. He has about five suits, or enough to keep in rotation for the trial, they have said.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in