Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, once the most powerful drug lord in the world, was convicted in federal court in New York City on all counts on Feb. 11.
A Brooklyn jury found Guzman, former head of the notorious Sinaloa cartel, guilty of operating a continuing criminal enterprise and various charges of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine, heroin, and marijuana on an industrial scale, The Associated Press reported.
U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of New York, Richard Donoghue, was cited by Reuters as saying, “In sum, the jury found that Guzman led the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the largest and most dangerous drug cartels in the world, and that he is responsible for violence, including murders, and the smuggling of massive amounts of narcotics into the United States over a period of decades.”
Guzman faces up to life in prison, and his sentencing date is June 25.
“This conviction, we expect, will bring a sentence of life without the possibility of parole,” Donoghue said. “It Is a sentence from which there is no escape and no return. This conviction is a victory for the American people, who have suffered so long and so much, while Guzman made billions pouring poison over our southern border.”
El Chapo’s Wife Reacts
The infamous drug dealer’s 29-year-old, ex-beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, was on hand at the courtroom to watch the jury hand down its guilty verdict.
Guzman showed no emotion as the verdict was read out, but afterwards, Daily Mail reported, he turned to look at his wife and blew her a kiss.
When the jury left the room, Guzman and Aispuro put their hands to their hearts and gave each other the thumbs up sign.
His wife shed tears.
Aispuro left the courthouse after the verdict, surrounded by media, appearing upbeat.
Mexican cartel kingpin El Chapo's beauty queen wife, 29, is all SMILES as she leaves court after the 61-year-old is found GUILTY on all charges in drug trafficking trial – after first welling up with tears and giving him the thumbs up pic.twitter.com/gePwjnvZAP
— モンク (@riyadoro) February 13, 2019
She was surrounded by security as she made her way to a waiting vehicle.
The former beauty queen and Guzman have been married since she was 18.
Alongside her infamous husband, she too has been the focus of intense media scrutiny.
Aispuro had earlier given an interview in which she portrayed Guzman as a loving father to their twin daughters.
Journalist Anabel Hernández, who spoke with Aispuro on behalf of Telemundo News was cited by NBC as saying that Aispuro was a forthcoming interviewee.
“I asked her what she says to people that consider that ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán is a dangerous criminal, and she says that to her, Joaquín Guzmán is just her husband, not ‘El Chapo,'” Hernández said.
Throughout the trial, Aispuro posted inspirational quotes on social media about love and loyalty, but Daily Mail reported that after the guilty verdict was returned, she deleted her Instagram account.
Guzman the Escape Artist
Guzman, 61, previously broke out of two maximum-security Mexican prisons before he was captured and extradited to the United States.
He is now likely headed to a “supermax” prison where repeating his past escapes would be nearly impossible.
No one has broken out of Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado, since it opened in 1994 to house the most dangerous inmates in the U.S. prison system.
“ADX is the kind of prison that was designed for a high-profile inmate like El Chapo,” Larry Levine, a former federal inmate who is the director and founder of Wall Street Prison Consultants, told Reuters in a phone interview.
The prison, nicknamed “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” has special restrictions in place, designed to ensure some inmates have no means of exerting influence or threats beyond prison walls. This is useful for U.S. authorities to control those with sway over militant groups or criminal enterprises.
ADX Florence inmates are held in specially designed “control units” that function as prisons within prisons.
“It’s like a self-contained area within a self-contained area within a self-contained area,” Levine said.
‘I Will Reserve’
In the trial, which lasted several months, prosecutors used more than 50 witnesses to detail Guzman’s involvement in making billions of dollars distributing drugs in the United States. According to the New York Post, which dedicated reporters to cover his trial, 14 former associates were called to testify against him.
Guzman spoke in the courtroom only once during the trial, saying he wouldn’t testify in his own defense, NBC News reported.
“Señor judge, me and my attorneys have spoken about this,” Guzman stated. “And I will reserve.”
Convicted on all Counts
He was convicted on all 10 charges: engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise; international cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana manufacture, and distribution conspiracy; two counts of cocaine importation conspiracy; four counts of international distribution of cocaine; use of firearms; and conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds.
Guzman’s lawyers have released a statement to say they plan to appeal the conviction and that despite the guilty finding, he was “upbeat.”
Reuters contributed to this report.