A New York jury on Tuesday pronounced Mexican crime lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera alias “El Chapo” guilty after a three-month drug trial. The 61-year-old, who ran the Sinaloa drug cartel for decades, was convicted on 10 counts for smuggling cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States, as well as using firearms and conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds, CNN reported.
Guzmán now faces a possible life sentence, The New York Times reported. The sentence will be pronounced on June 25. The jury reached the verdict after hearing testimony from 56 witnesses for over 200 hours in total.
“This conviction is a victory for the American people who have suffered so long and so much while Guzmán made billions pouring poison over our southern border,” Richard Donoghue, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said. “This conviction is a victory for the Mexican people who have lost more than 1,00,000 lives in drug-related violence.”
“There are those who say the war on drugs is not worth fighting,” he added. “They are wrong.”
Guzmán’s lawyers said they will appeal in a higher court. They said Guzmán had expected the guilty verdict. “I’ve never faced a case with so many cooperating witnesses and so much evidence,” Jeffrey Lichtman, one of Guzmán’s lawyers said. Another lawyer, A Eduardo Balarezo, claimed that Guzmán was presumed guilty when the trial began.
The influential Sinaloa drug cartel is believed to be responsible for almost 25% of all illegal drugs that enter the United States from Mexico. US courts first indicted Guzmán in the 1990s. He began his career in opium and cannabis farming and expanded to include what is believed to be the largest transnational cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine smuggling operation. The drug smuggler managed to escape twice from Mexican prisons during his incarceration and reportedly controlled operations from his cell.