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Tue, 21 Jan 2020 11:05 GMT

El Chapo' Jurors Appear to Focus on Top U.S. Charge; No Verdict Yet


7Dnews London - Reuters

Tue, 12 Feb 2019 14:48 GMT

No verdict has yet been reached by jurors in the case against the Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, after five days of deliberations.

Guzman faces 10 criminal counts related to trafficking narcotics including cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine into the US, as the leader of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico.  

He is notorious for escaping twice from maximum security Mexican prisons before his most recent capture in January 2016; he was extradited to the US a year later.  

The jury sat down on Monday and re-heard or were given testimony from two federal officials, who testified in the trial, which began three months ago.  

US District Judge Brian Cogan was asked by the jurors if they had to agree unanimously that the government had proven, or not proven, Guzman's criminal responsibility for individual drug shipments. Cogan told them to review his earlier jury instructions for an answer. 

The requests suggest jurors may be focused on the first and most complex of the charges against Guzman, whether he had been "engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise." That count includes 26 different alleged drug violations related to cocaine, and asks jurors to decide if Guzman was criminally responsible for three or more as part of a “continuing series of violations.” 

The defense has said the defendant was set up as a scapegoat by someone called Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, a Sinaloa drug kingpin who remains at large. Prosecutors have said Guzman and Zambada were partners. 

More than 50 witnesses testified during the trial, including 14 former Guzman associates who agreed to cooperate with US prosecutors. They offered detailed accounts of the Sinaloa Cartel's inner workings and Guzman's purported role as boss, including his penchant for murdering his enemies. 

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