In this Jan. 8, 2016 file photo, drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is made to face the media in Mexico City as he is escorted by Mexican soldiers following his recapture six months after escaping from a maximum security prison. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

Closing arguments in trial of Mexican drug lord ‘El Chapo’

Prosecutor: Joaquin Guzman feared prosecution on US soil

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was portrayed Wednesday in closing arguments at his U.S. trial as a ruthless Mexican drug lord who also became skilled at evading capture and escaping prison because he feared facing justice on American soil.

“Why didn’t the defendant want to get caught? I submit it was because he knew he was guilty,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Goldbarg told the jury. “He always had an escape plan in place.”

READ MORE: Woman testifies against El Chapo, details affair

The defendant, who knew he had been named in a U.S. indictment, had his Sinaloa cartel dig a mile-long (1.6-kilometre-long) tunnel to break him out a Mexican prison in 2014, a stunt showing “just how badly he wanted to avoid being here today,” she added.

The arguments came at a trial where Guzman is facing multiple drug and murder conspiracy charges that could land him in prison for life if he’s convicted. The defence, which was to give its closing on Thursday, insists the defendant’s role in the organization has been embellished, and that the real cartel boss remains on the loose in Mexico.

With Guzman at the defence table with three plainclothes deputy U.S. marshals seated immediately behind him, Goldbarg began her argument by recounting the testimony of a former cartel crony who claimed he witnessed Guzman nearly beat to death two men from Sinaloa after paid-off authorities told him they were working for a rival cartel. The witness said Guzman cursed at the men before shooting them in the head and ordering their bodies thrown on a bonfire.

“The cartel’s engines were corruption and violence,” she said. The combination allowed Guzman “to impose his will on anyone who got in his way,” she added.

READ MORE: US trial to tell epic tale of Mexican drug lord “El Chapo”

Goldbarg pointed to an “avalanche” of evidence including testimony from a former Colombian kingpin who said he supplied the cartel and received 55,000 kilograms (121,253 pounds) during the early 2000s with assurances from Guzman that he could get it across the U.S. border faster than anyone.

Of the 14 co-operators who took the witness stand, 11 testified that they took orders from the defendant, she said.

The prosecutor offered snippets of Guzman’s communications so the jury could hear him doing business “in his own words.” In one, he cautioned his father-in-law not to use radios when running drugs at the border because he had been tipped off to eavesdropping by border agents.

“This is the defendant running his empire,” Goldbarg said.

The prosecutors told jurors if they had any doubt Guzman was guilty, they should ask themselves why he acted the way he did: why he had bodyguards, hid out in the Sinaloa mountainside, dug secret trap doors in his safe houses and used spyware on his wife and two girlfriends.

“The questions could go on and on,” Goldbarg said. “The answer is common sense.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Couple in crash on Highway 1 mistake North Shuswap for Lower Mainland

Chase RCMP report Mercedes Benz collides with transport truck

Province looking into pollution complaint at Shuswap dairy farm

Farm along the Salmon River has drawn complaints from the Okanagan Indian Band

Salmon Arm RCMP, new immigrants get acquainted at police station

Tour of detachment provides opportunity to explore differences in judicial systems

Shuswap speedskater takes on international competition in Poland

Salmon Arm’s Laura Hall too fourth place with Canadian team

Salmon Arm gives tax break to Canoe Forest Products plywood plant

Company tax bill to be reduced while residential taxpayers to pick up shortfall

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Wet’suwet’en herreditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Laughing ladies and country artists sell out Okanagan venue

Alan Doyle and I Am Woman, Hear Me Laff! back to back sold out

Revelstoke mother and daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Ministry grants SD67 extension to balance books, submit amended budget

The board of trustees voted Monday to acquire outside help to deal with budget concerns

Most Read