Mexican Drug Lord, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, requested a new trial on Friday after New York Juror admitted to breaking rules.
On February 20th, 2019, VICE News reported that one of the jurors, who wished to stay anonymous, spoke about being a part of this news breaking case. He stated that at least five other jurors disobeyed the District Judge, Brian Cogan, and followed the case on social media during the trial. Additionally, this juror shared detailed notes taken during the trial.
Brian Cogan repeatedly warned the jurors against any form of communication between each other in order for their conclusions to be strictly based on the evidence given in the courtroom. Cell phones were confiscated and jurors were escorted out of the courthouse each day by US Marshals. This did not stop the jurors from discussing the case-sensitive topic. They wrote notes to each other and discussed matters on the ride home.
As a result, El Chapo’s defense attorneys sent a letter to Cogan requesting a mistrial. Under Federal Procedure Rules, the defense has 14 days to file for a mistrial, or until February 26th. El Chapo requested an extension and was granted until March 28th, 2019 to file this motion.
El Chapo was convicted on Feb. 12, 2018. After three months of testimony and threats upon jurors’ lives. Prosecutors called 56 witnesses. Many of these witnesses were associated with El Chapo and agreed to testify in hopes of lessening their own crimes in court. The defense only called one witness on El Chapo’s behalf.
El Chapo was convicted on 10 counts. The counts read:
- Engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise
- International Cocaine, Heroin, Methamphetamine, and Marijuana Manufacture and Distribution Conspiracy
- Cocaine Importation Conspiracy
- Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy
- Four counts of International Distribution of Cocaine
- Use of Firearms
- Conspiracy to Launder Narcotics Proceeds
EL Chapo has become a Mexican folk hero for his attempts to avoid capture and to escape prison. Both US and Mexican law enforcement struggled to apprehend El Chapo for over two decades since his first arrest in 1993. Mexico became dedicated to reducing drug trafficking under President Felipe Calderon and this fight renewed under President Enrique Peña Nieto. Mexico has realized that the drug syndicates have a net worth of between 19 billion to 26 billion dollars annually, and the government has dedicated time, resource, and manpower to alleviate these violent groups.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s acting director, Uttam Dhillon, declared that the conviction “demonstrates the dedication and determination of the men and women of the DEA to bring the world’s most notorious and prolific drug trafficker to justice.” El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel is infamous not only for its narcotics but is responsible for an estimated 150,000 homicides from 2006 to 2018.