What the ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán verdict means for the powerful Sinaloa cartel
There seemed little doubt that the Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera would be convicted in New York at his epic medication trial. However, if the verdict finally came, at 12:31 p.m. on Tuesday, despair, pride and, for so most, sheer relief that the marathon was overswept throughout the Brooklyn court, finishing not just a grueling week-long trial but an excruciating week of jury deliberations.
The first indication that a verdict was reached arrived the only afternoon when Melonie Clarke, Judge Brian M. Cogan’s deputy, entered the eighth-floor courtroom to tell the prosecution and defense which jurors had just sent out a note stating they’d come to a decision. For another 25 minutes, a crowd of administration officials and lawyers, reporters waited for the answer to a question Was the kingpin, known to the world since El Chapo, guilty?
At one point, Richard P. Donoghue, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, appeared in court to wish his prosecution team good luck, shaking each of their hands. Jeffrey Lichtman, among Mr. Guzmán’s attorneys, did the exact same in a clear show of sportsmanship.
Afterward, at 12:25 p.m., Mr. Guzmán was brought into the courtroom by numerous federal marshals and, as he’d done during the trial, looked immediately at his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, who had been sitting on a bench in the second row. As more marshals — called in to give security — stuffed the well of the courtroom, Judge Cogan declared from the bench: “We’ve reached a verdict.”
A minute later, the 18 jurors slowly filed in — and none even glanced at Mr. Guzmán. The foreperson, known only as Juror 11, gave the verdict to Ms. Clarke, who passed it to Judge Cogan. Since he read the verdict — guilty on all 10 counts of the indictment — Mr. Guzmán listened through an interpreter, his mouth agape and looking vaguely stunned.
Following the verdict had been read, Mr. Guzmán appeared back in Ms. Coronel, who flashed him a thumbs up with tears in her eyes. Judge Cogan, in his emotional moment, had inspected the signs as closely since it had or told jurors in his 13 years of trial work he had never seen a panel that had paid more attention to a situation. “Quite frankly,” he added, “it made me proud to be an American.”
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