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The “El Chapo” Trial is Under Way

One of the most notorious drug-lords in history is finally facing trial in New York today.  He is facing 17 charges that could lead to a life sentence.  His defense attorney claims the Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is the fall guy for the real king pin who is still operating in Mexico.  He continues to claim that people in the Mexican government, all the way up to the current president, have accepted bribes to pin the blame on Guzman. Let’s take a look at what (allegedly) landed “El Chapo” in court today.


Joaquin Guzman lived in Sinaloa, Mexico from birth.  His father said he was a cattle rancher, but many people believe he was actually a poppy farmer.  Joaquin dropped out of school in 3rd grade to work with his father.  His father was abusive and, as a teen, Joaquin stood up to him.  Eventually, Guzman was kicked out of his family home so he went to live with his grandfather.  After a time, he went to live with his uncle, Pedro Perez who was a pioneer in the Mexican drug trade.

It did not take long for “El Chapo” to make a name for himself.  In the 70’s and 80’s, Guzman spent time working his way through the ranks until, in the 90’s, he was able to seize power when the leader of the cartel was arrested.  From the 90’s to around 2013, Guzman (allegedly) ran the Sinaloa Cartel with an iron fist.

The Charges

“El Chapo” is facing 17 criminal charges including:

  • Distribution of massive amounts of narcotics. It is estimated that over 230,000 pounds of cocaine have crossed the border into the U.S.
  • Unlawful distribution and use of firearms. In 2014, he claimed he was responsible for the murder of 2,000 – 3,000 people.
  • International money smuggling. The amount totaling in the area of $14 billion.

Interestingly, as part of the extradition agreement, the Mexican government made the United States agree to take the death penalty off the table.  Mexico does not agree with capital punishment.  Recently, Mexico denied Guzman’s request for extradition as the drug lord has escaped prison several times in the past (most recently in 2013).

Today in Court

Opening statements were made today in a New York court.  Guzman pleaded “not guilty” to all charges.  His lawyer claimed that he was being used as a scapegoat by the Mexican government.  He went on to say that the Mexican government was bribed by the current cartel leader to blame Guzman for the crimes.  The identities of all jurors are being concealed during the duration of the case due to safety concerns.  The trial was delayed because of juror anxiety.  Additionally, an enormous security operation was in place to mitigate any chance of an incident.  This trial is expected to take at least four months.

You do not have to be a drug lord to require the services of an experienced attorney.  If you are having trouble making ends meet, your business needs tax advice, or your family needs legal advice, contact Elias Dsouza of Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group today.

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