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6 gripping moments from the El Chapo trial

February 13, 2019 By Hannah Grossman Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In this Jan. 19, 2017 photo provided by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, authorities escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman from a plane to a waiting caravan of SUVs at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. United States Drug Enforcement Administration via AP
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Once a powerful drug lord in Mexico, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was convicted on Tuesday for dozens of counts related to drug trafficking and conspiracy. The prosecution went through hundreds of thousands of documents over the course of three months. And, with the help of Guzman’s former close associates and cartel members, the prosecution presented an insider’s view into the corruption, violence and resourcefulness behind the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Guzman will face life in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for June 25, according to The New York Times. Until then, here are six memorable moments from the trial.

1. The tunnel

Federal prosecutors presented to the jury a video tour of the infamous drug-smuggling tunnel that ran from Mexico to a warehouse in Arizona, which was located two blocks from a U.S. Customs office. The underground route was nearly 6 feet high and ran along an electrically lit passageway about 60 yards long. Upon discovering the tunnel, U.S. Customs officers tried to smash their way through the concrete in order to gain access, only to realize that it could be easily opened with a twist of a water valve on Mexico’s side of the tunnel.

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2. The no-hug ruling

El Chapo was forbidden from hugging his wife at trial. The judge rejected a motion by the defense that claimed “an embrace” between husband and wife after two years of no physical contact would not pose a security risk. The judge cited the need for strict security precautions given El Chapo’s history of escaping prison and intimidating witnesses who are “cooperating with the government.”

3. The corruption

The cash flow between the cartel and the Mexican government protected Guzman and his operations from authorities. Former cartel members outlined the extensive network of bribery that made El Chapo into one of the most powerful traffickers in Mexico. In one instance, Jesus Zambada, a former drug cartel member, said that El Chapo instructed him to give $100,000 and a hug to a general. Zambada also testified that when El Chapo escaped prison in 2001, police escorted him to safety rather than apprehending him. Another witness testified that El Chapo paid $100 million to a former president of Mexico.

4. The hit list

Former Colombian drug kingpin Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia, who drastically transformed his face through plastic surgery in order to evade authorities, testified that El Chapo paid steep rates for murder. Ramirez Abadia confirmed it cost $45,000 for the assassination of three, although some murders cost as much as $338,776 due to the number of hit men involved.

5. The Netflix actor

The actor who plays El Chapo on the Netflix hit show “Narcos,” Alejandro Edda, showed up in court to study the drug lord, hoping to boost the authenticity of his acting. “It was a very surreal moment, I have to be honest, looking at his eyes,” Edda said. El Chapo had apparently watched Narcos and enjoyed the first few seasons, according to his associates.

6. The mistress vs. the wife

El Chapo courted a 21-year-old mistress in 2011, Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez, and later sent her to do some of his drug bidding. Guzman once sent Lopez on a mission to find top-quality marijuana near Mexico. When she testified about her intimate relationship with Guzman, his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, 29, smirked and laughed as Lopez cried on the stand.

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