In this Jan. 8, 2016 file photo, drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is made to face the media in Mexico City as he is escorted by Mexican soldiers following his recapture six months after escaping from a maximum security prison. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

Closing arguments in trial of Mexican drug lord ‘El Chapo’

Prosecutor: Joaquin Guzman feared prosecution on US soil

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was portrayed Wednesday in closing arguments at his U.S. trial as a ruthless Mexican drug lord who also became skilled at evading capture and escaping prison because he feared facing justice on American soil.

“Why didn’t the defendant want to get caught? I submit it was because he knew he was guilty,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Goldbarg told the jury. “He always had an escape plan in place.”

READ MORE: Woman testifies against El Chapo, details affair

The defendant, who knew he had been named in a U.S. indictment, had his Sinaloa cartel dig a mile-long (1.6-kilometre-long) tunnel to break him out a Mexican prison in 2014, a stunt showing “just how badly he wanted to avoid being here today,” she added.

The arguments came at a trial where Guzman is facing multiple drug and murder conspiracy charges that could land him in prison for life if he’s convicted. The defence, which was to give its closing on Thursday, insists the defendant’s role in the organization has been embellished, and that the real cartel boss remains on the loose in Mexico.

With Guzman at the defence table with three plainclothes deputy U.S. marshals seated immediately behind him, Goldbarg began her argument by recounting the testimony of a former cartel crony who claimed he witnessed Guzman nearly beat to death two men from Sinaloa after paid-off authorities told him they were working for a rival cartel. The witness said Guzman cursed at the men before shooting them in the head and ordering their bodies thrown on a bonfire.

“The cartel’s engines were corruption and violence,” she said. The combination allowed Guzman “to impose his will on anyone who got in his way,” she added.

READ MORE: US trial to tell epic tale of Mexican drug lord “El Chapo”

Goldbarg pointed to an “avalanche” of evidence including testimony from a former Colombian kingpin who said he supplied the cartel and received 55,000 kilograms (121,253 pounds) during the early 2000s with assurances from Guzman that he could get it across the U.S. border faster than anyone.

Of the 14 co-operators who took the witness stand, 11 testified that they took orders from the defendant, she said.

The prosecutor offered snippets of Guzman’s communications so the jury could hear him doing business “in his own words.” In one, he cautioned his father-in-law not to use radios when running drugs at the border because he had been tipped off to eavesdropping by border agents.

“This is the defendant running his empire,” Goldbarg said.

The prosecutors told jurors if they had any doubt Guzman was guilty, they should ask themselves why he acted the way he did: why he had bodyguards, hid out in the Sinaloa mountainside, dug secret trap doors in his safe houses and used spyware on his wife and two girlfriends.

“The questions could go on and on,” Goldbarg said. “The answer is common sense.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Spring fishery closures mulled for south coast

Fewer fish are returning to rivers and more conservation needed, say feds

Bungy jump naked in support of mental health programs

Registration open for annual fundraiser for BC Schizophrenia Society

Four weather extremes in just six months a cause for concern

Global warming contributing to the full gamut of conditions

Column: Snow reveals the character of a community

For every internet complainer there were two more willing to help a neighbour

Car fire destroys vehicle in Chemainus

Traffic rerouted for a short time at the Henry Road roundabout

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Most Read