NEW YORK – The attorneys for Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman announced that they will appeal the guilty verdict handed down on Tuesday after a three-month-long trial in US federal court.
“Of course we’re going to appeal,” lead attorney Jeffrey Lichtman told reporters, flanked by colleagues Eduardo Balarezo and William Purpura.
“We fought like complete savages and left it all on the battlefield for Joaquin Guzman,” Lichtman said. “If you can’t represent Joaquin Guzman as defense lawyer, you shouldn’t be representing anyone.”
Guzman took the verdict in stride, the attorney said.
“He knew the odds. This was a case that was literally – literally – an avalanche of evidence. So much we could barely wade through it,” Lichtman said.
Shortly before the defense team’s statements to the media, Chapo’s wife, Emma Coronel, left the federal courthouse in Brooklyn along with one of the female lawyers who represented her husband after remaining impassive while the judge overseeing the trial read the guilty verdict.
Coronel was escorted by several members of the security detail while a huge crowd of reporters and cameramen approached her trying to get a statement. “No comment,” was the only thing her attorney said, however.
The jury’s foreman handed a sheet of paper containing the verdict to US District Judge Brian Cogan, who read it to those in the courtroom, after warning them to not show any reaction.
The judge said the jury found El Chapo (Shorty) guilty on all 10 counts he was facing in the 11-week trial.
The jury, whose members were granted anonymity to protect them from Guzman and his associates, failed to reach a unanimous verdict on only two counts related to cocaine trafficking in 2007 and marijuana trafficking in 2012.
Cogan will now have to determine the sentence to be imposed on the most powerful drug trafficker ever tried in the United States.
The 61-year-old leader of the Sinaloa cartel will be sentenced on June 25.
The most serious charge faced by Guzman was running a criminal enterprise, and the conviction on this charge could land the drug lord in federal prison for the rest of his life.
The trial took place under extremely tight security and was the only trial held on the 8th floor of the federal building.
Armed US Marshals and K-9 units were posted both inside and outside the courtroom.
The jury heard testimony from 56 witnesses, of whom 14 had reached agreements with federal prosecutors to provide evidence against Guzman.
The most important witness was Colombian drug lord Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia, whose face was disfigured from undergoing plastic surgery to elude authorities and who spoke about murdering people without any emotion.
The cooperating witnesses, who are in prison in the US and expect a reduction in their sentences for working with the prosecution, were Guzman’s associates and included Ramirez, Damaso Alonso, Jesus “El Rey” (The King) Zambada and his nephew, Vicentillo Zambada.
The jury reviewed the cooperating witnesses’ testimony during the first four days of deliberations.
Ramirez, known as “Chupeta” (Lollipop), said that during his time as leader of Colombia’s North Valley cartel he shipped more than 400,000 tons of narcotics to the United States, the majority working with the Sinaloa organization and using tunnels, speedboats, fishing boats and even cans of jalapeño peppers.
El Chapo was captured in Los Mochis, a city in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa, in January 2016 and extradited to the United States on Jan. 19, 2017.
The Sinaloa cartel, sometimes referred to by Mexican officials as the Pacific cartel, is the oldest drug cartel in Mexico.
The Sinaloa organization, according to intelligence agencies, is a transnational business empire that operates in the United States, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Americas and Asia.