by WorldTribune Staff, January 25, 2018
Attorneys for legendary drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán said there is no need to keep jurors in his federal trial anonymous and under armed guard. Why?
El Chapo has vowed not to have them killed.
Special protection “sends the message to each juror that he or she needs to be protected from Mr. Guzmán. From there, members of the jury could infer that Mr. Guzmán is both dangerous and guilty,” defense attorney A. Eduardo Balarezo wrote in a recently filed motion.
The numerous charges against El Chapo include murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking. The trial will be held in Brooklyn Federal Court in September.
Prosecutors asked Brooklyn Federal Court Justice Brian Cogan for an anonymous jury, citing the cartel leader’s history of violence, which allegedly includes attempts to murder past witnesses.
Five inmates on federal lockdown at Taft, California, have vowed to bust Guzman out if he is convicted and sent to their institution.
“We are the hitmen who are going to take care of him,” one of the prisoners warned, the Los Angeles Times reported. “We want to tell the people this: If you bring ‘el señor’ here and if ‘el señor’ asks us to free him, we are going to take him out immediately.’ ”
The leader of the group of inmates, identified only as “Chucky,” claims he has “bought” off all the prison guards and seemed sure that Guzman would wind up there.
“Everything is ready for you. What you say is the law. Here you have more than 3,500 soldiers.”
El Chapo escaped twice while being held in Mexican prisons. He was was extradited from Mexico to New York in January 2017.
Related: Meanwhile, in N.Y., ‘El Chapo’ faces a 17-count indictment . . . and a bill for the wall?, January 27, 2017
Guzman could face the rest of his life in a U.S. prison and have $14 billion of his drug-trafficking profits seized by American authorities, U.S. prosecutors said on Jan. 20, 2017, a day after the cartel kingpin was extradited from Mexico to stand trial in New York.
During a brief hearing at the Brooklyn federal court, Guzman pleaded not guilty to charges that he lead a vast and murderous criminal operation that distributed 200 tons of cocaine for sale on American streets.