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Man arrested in courthouse as El Chapo jury deliberates

February 7, 2019 By Tom Hays The Associated Press
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Jurors at the U.S. trial of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman contemplated their case for a fourth day on Thursday while some colorful action erupted, presumably out of their earshot, in the adjacent courtroom.

As the anonymous jury toiled away, a man, Rene Rivera Martinez, showed up in the federal courtroom in Brooklyn claiming to be a Guzman relative and trying to use seating for family members. He was removed to an overflow courtroom before deputy U.S. marshals entered and took him out in handcuffs.

Martinez was arrested on multiple outstanding warrants and turned over to ICE, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  

The scene occurred amid a trial that has provided plenty of riveting details of its own.

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Federal prosecutors say that under Guzman, the Sinaloa cartel smuggled at least 200 tons of cocaine into the U.S.; they also say he used a team of assassins to protect his turf.

On Wednesday, the jurors asked whether killing someone over personal beef could be part of a drug-trafficking conspiracy. In the same note to the judge, they also asked to review lengthy transcripts of testimony of three cooperating drug dealers who testified against Guzman.

The trial evidence included testimony from 14 cooperators, including many who described Guzman’s willingness to use violence against enemies of a cartel that prosecutors say smuggled at least 200 tons of cocaine into the U.S. over two decades.

The defense has accused the cooperators of making him a scapegoat for their own crimes.

Guzman, 61, attained near-mythical status by escaping jail twice in Mexico. He was recaptured and sent in 2017 to the United States, where he has been held in solitary confinement ever since.

He could get life in prison if convicted of multiple drug-trafficking conspiracy counts.

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