News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Nov. 16, 2018: Notorious Mexican drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is finally on trial in New York City for international drug trafficking, conspiring to murder rivals, gun charges and money laundering.
This week, a former Mexican cartel member, Jesus Zambada, testified for the U.S. government at El Chapo’s trial, and detailed how the Sinaloa cartel paid bribes, preferably in U.S. dollars, to high-ranking police and other officials to protect its drug operation.
He said that in one instance, Guzman directed him to give $100,000 and a hug to a general.
On Wednesday, Zambada identified Guzman in the courtroom and told jurors he “was one of the most powerful drug traffickers in Mexico.” He also described how the cartel made massive profits by smuggling tons of cocaine into the United States.
Defense lawyers for Guzman, however, argue he is being framed.
The trial is continuing under extraordinary security measures. Guzman is also known for his dramatic prison escapes. In 2001, while serving a 20-year sentence for criminal association and bribery in Mexico, he reportedly broke out by hiding in a laundry cart. He was recaptured in 2014 at a hotel in the Pacific beach town of Mazatlan. But the next year he escaped again through a hole in his cell that led to a mile-long underground tunnel.
In January 2016, authorities closed in on Guzman at a hideaway in the coastal city of Los Mochis. The next year — one day before the inauguration of US President Donald Trump — he was extradited aboard a flight from Juarez, Mexico, to New York.
He has been held in solitary confinement in a small cell at the federal lockup in Manhattan since but nearly two years after his extradition, the Sinaloa cartel remains the dominant player in the cocaine trade, according to Bagley.
Guzman, 61, has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces a sentence of life in prison.