In a case that is playing out like a Law & Order episode come to life, the trial of notorious drug kingpin is making headlines as 2018 winds down.
The trial, which began in mid-November, kicked off with a mix of impassioned arguments and frightened jurors, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Jury selection was a complicated process. Potential jurors feared for their lives due to El Chapo’s alleged connections to drug rings throughout the Americas and the perception that they could be killed in retaliation or to set an example for any juror who would consider returning a guilty verdict.
El Chapo – real name Joaquin Guzman – escaped twice after captures in 1993 and 2014, seemingly vanishing despite being placed in high security prisons. This led to a widespread belief that he had connections inside the law enforcement community, another reason jurors were fearful as the trial kicked off.
Prosecutors have worked to paint the picture of a ruthless drug kingpin while the defense seems to have coalesced around the idea that bad things have happened, but Mr. Guzman is not responsible for them; further, they deny that he is the leader of the cartel.
The first month of the trial came to an end earlier this week, as two Colombian men with connections to El Chapo testified before the jury. The testimony of Juan Carlos Ramirez focused on the 150 murders he says he committed on behalf of El Chapo in Colombia and elsewhere in South America — including the slayings of prosecutors, attorneys, and military officials (Source: “The El Chapo Trial Concludes Month One With Tales of Blood and Money”, The New York Times).