Federal jury finds drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán guilty of all counts

NEW YORK – A federal jury slammed the door on a final escape bid by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán on Tuesday, convicting the former leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel of drug trafficking, weapons charges and operating a continuing criminal enterprise – a verdict that could send him to prison for life.

The panel of eight women and four men, who have served in anonymity amid the tight security around the man notorious for escaping from prison in his native Mexico twice, delivered the verdict on the sixth day of deliberations. It was read by U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan.

Guzmán, 61, showed no emotion at the findings.

The verdict capped a trial began more than two months ago. Prosecutors called 56 witnesses, 14 of them former associates of Guzmán who cooperated with the government in the hope of gaining leniency for their own crimes.

The defense called one witness.

By turns grisly, comic, and serious, the proceeding unfolded as a ready-for-telenovela look inside Guzmán’s Sinaloa drug cartel.

Prosecutors said he reaped hundreds of millions of dollars by smuggling and distributing tons of cocaine and heroin to cities across the United States from the late 1980s into the 2000s.

Dubbed “El Rápido” for his speed-to-market distribution network, he used cars, trucks, trains, planes, fishing boats, submarines, and tunnels under the U.S.-Mexican border to deliver drugs.

Guzmán and his underlings hid drugs in chile containers, shipments of fish or in carefully concealed compartments. 

In a superseding indictment, prosecutors said Guzmán and alleged co-leader Ismael Zambada García created the Sinaloa cartel in the early 2000s from an existing Mexican drug trafficking federation.

The Mexican operation quickly became one of the world’s largest narcotics smuggling organizations, shipping tons of Colombian cocaine first to Mexico, and then on to the United States and beyond.

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