Will the names of politicians and soldiers that ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán bribed come out at trial?

The time has come for El Chapo. What for many is shaping up as “the trial of the century” would start this November 5 in Brooklyn, in a federal court in which, for three to five months, some of the darkest secrets of Mexican drug trafficking will be aired. Although in this process cameras will not be allowed and the capo will not march down the court steps, as did the Mafiosi of the Gambino family in the 1990s, the seduction of the drug traffic is unprecedented.

At 7 in the morning of that day, if everything goes according to plan, Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán will leave his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan to cross the Brooklyn Bridge in a convoy of armored trucks, guarded from the sky for one or several helicopters. To avoid any assassination attempt, he will wear a helmet and a bulletproof vest, while he will be protected by several snipers posted in strategic buildings along the three kilometers that separate the jail from the federal courthouse.

That, the Theodore Roosevelt Court for more detail, will be the battlefield in which the prosecutor of the Eastern District of New York, Richard P. Donoghue, and lawyers Guzmán Loera, Eduardo Balarezo and Jeffrey Lichtman, will dispute the fate of the Mexican capo before Judge Brian Cogan and a jury to select that will remain anonymous throughout the trial.

The truth is that under almost all scenarios, an unprecedented and sensational rain of revelations is looming in the trial that will start in federal court in Brooklyn. It is the highest profile judicial process linked to drug trafficking in recent decades, since Carlos Lehder, one of the founders of the Medellín cartel, was tried in the late 1980s.

Half a dozen judicial memoranda of the New York Prosecutor’s Office consulted by Bloomberg Businessweek Mexico reveal how the Department of Justice has drawn up a robust file, not only from decades of research but also from testimonies of some of Chapo’s closest collaborators. Guzmán, ready to take the stand to reveal intimate details of the operation of his empire, from the six years of Carlos Salinas de Gortari to Enrique Peña Nieto.

With similar processes as background, the moves on the board are expected: Donald P. Donoghue will seek the highest possible sentence (life imprisonment), accusing the criminal leader of plunging into a violent war in Mexico and murdering at least 30 people directly, besides poisoning thousands of Americans.

Eduardo Balarezo and Jeffrey Lichtman will try to convince the jury that the ex-leader of the Sinaloa Cartel does not represent such a big risk to society and that he has been the victim of a conspiracy to present him as a monster. This, in search of reducing the sentence that hangs over his head.

The eyes of all will be fixed on Guzmán Loera, who has been refusing to plead guilty since he was handed over to the United States in 2016.
Unlike the silence accorded by other top level capos who were extradited, such as Osiel Cárdenas, Eduardo Arellano Félix, Alfredo Beltrán Leyva or Édgar Valdéz Villarreal, “El Chapo” has remained unmoved: he insists on his innocence.

This results in the judicial process taking a more detailed course, with witnesses, experts, documents, videos and evidence presented before the jury. They are elements that, in another scenario, would have remained without coming to the public light, which gives Washington the opportunity to deploy its entire arsenal.
AN OLD FRIEND
Among the protected witnesses who will collaborate in the trial, confirmed government sources, is Dámaso López, ‘El Licenciado’, an old confidant of Guzmán, and with whom he has had a violent confrontation for two years.

By itself, his testimony aims to be very compromising, since he participated in many of the highest level decisions of the Sinaloa Cartel for more than two decades.

But Lopez’s collaboration with the US authorities goes further. It is the key to the trial: the flip side will be the norm and not the exception during this process, in which everything points to different operators of the cartel will be aligned against their old boss.

Thanks to the system of rewards and punishments that prevail in the US justice system, the incentive to cooperate with the authorities is strong. To show, again ‘The Licensed’, who today is held in a state prison in Virginia, after pleading guilty to the crime of importing cocaine. He is waiting for his sentence, scheduled for the end of November, a few weeks after the start of the trial of Guzmán Loera. Your sentence could be substantially reduced if you give useful information against your expatriate. In an optimistic scenario, maybe less than 10 years.

Like Damaso’s testimony, several preparatory documents point to a cascade of defections and betrayals of characters that Washington has sought to convince in recent weeks to join its witness protection program in exchange for information that strengthens the case.
“Some of the witnesses (…) live in locations that the government and these witnesses have kept secret to the Cartel,” explains a memo dated September 21. “Other witnesses are already imprisoned and in the witness protection program and therefore they are in units of protection and custody in their respective prisons in light of the great risk that comes to their lives due to the nature of their specific testimony. ”

Among the evidences that are expected to wind up in the coming weeks are the bribes to public officials to allow the passage of drug shipments throughout the region, as well as those servers who attended at least four escapes of the Chapo: two prison , in 2001 and 2015, one of a raid organized by the Federal Police in Los Cabos, in 2012, and another, in Los Mochis, in 2014.

Not only that: the New York prosecutor’s office will accuse Guzmán Loera of having tried to flee again in late 2016, shortly before his extradition to the United States, according to an intercepted call in which he “spoke with relatives and other conspirators about bribe officials to get him moved to another prison in Mexico from which he could easily escape. ”

This statement agrees with the transfer of Guzmán Loera from the Altiplano prison to that of Ciudad Juárez, in the middle of that year.
Along with these elements, the Sinaloan will be accused of thirty murders, numerous kidnappings, several cases of torture and the direct murder of two assassins of the Zetas “whom he executed with a shot to the head”. Where does that information come from? Again, the accuracy of the data (including details of how the bodies were disposed of, for example) indicate that there is a collaborator in their immediate environment.

“The government expects testimony from multiple witnesses who will collaborate giving details about how the defendant continued to traffic in drugs and corrupting officials of different levels after he was arrested in 1993 (…) also after the arrest in February 2014,” another memo notes. sent by the New York Prosecutor’s Office to Judge Cogan.

The list of public servants who supported Guzmán Loera during his long career is as potentially explosive as it is extensive and impossible to predict. But it can be extended to America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania, where dozens of cells of the Sinaloa Cartel have been found and dismantled over the last decade and a half.

“We can expect many names,” says an intelligence source. “Of course, Americans already know them for their espionage activities, but that will not prevent them from being mentioned during the trial. Everything will depend on how much noise they want to generate and if the Chapo wants to negotiate or not. ”
The truth is that under almost all scenarios, an unprecedented and sensational rain of revelations is looming in the trial that will start in federal court in Brooklyn. It is the highest profile judicial process linked to drug trafficking in recent decades, since Carlos Lehder, one of the founders of the Medellín cartel, was tried in the late 1980s.

The judicial memoranda state that virtually the entire career of Chapo will be subject to scrutiny: from his early years in Sinaloa, when he was known as “El Rápido”, for his ability to mobilize drug packages, until his last stage in freedom, after escape from the Altiplano penitentiary in 2016.
The US government has set itself the goal of reconstructing the rise of the Sinaloa Cartel to become one of the most powerful criminal organizations on the planet, with thousands of operators distributed in some twenty countries of the world.
And from there, to remove the past, is where more than one secret can emerge.

BRIBES TO OFFICIALS Among the evidences that are expected to end up in the coming weeks are the bribes to public officials to allow the passage of drug shipments throughout the region, as well as those servers who attended at least four escapes of the Chapo: two of prison, in 2001 and 2015, one of a raid organized by the Federal Police in Los Cabos, in 2012, and another, in Los Mochis, in 2014.

Not only that: the New York prosecutor’s office will accuse Guzmán Loera of having tried to flee again in late 2016, shortly before his extradition to the United States, according to an intercepted call in which he “spoke with relatives and other conspirators about bribe officials to get him moved to another prison in Mexico from which he could easily escape. ”

This statement agrees with the transfer of Guzmán Loera from the Altiplano prison to that of Ciudad Juárez, in the middle of that year.
While the prosecution moves its pieces, the lawyers of Guzmán Loera also: presumably have begun to intimidate witnesses to avoid giving their testimony. Some have been threatened with death, according to testimonies sent to Judge Cogan.

The first threat message arrived by WhatsApp to the cell phone of the lawyer of TC4 (Contributing Witness 4) on the afternoon of September 23 last.
“Do you know that the government betrayed your witness? See you in court “, read the message.

The intimidation did not come from an anonymous number, but from Balarezo’s cell phone. “The message sent by the lawyer can not be read except as an attempt to frighten or intimidate a potential witness,” the prosecution said in a memo dated September 29. Balarezo and Lichtman were searched for the article, but did not respond to the request for comment.

In the document signed by the prosecutor Donoghue, is detailed not only the pressure that has begun to exercise the team of the capo to prevent certain of their former collaborators take the stand and give a potentially incriminating testimony, but the extreme security measures that will be taken what to implement to prevent, for example, from being killed.

“The witnesses who will participate in favor of the government are in extreme danger,” Donoghue warned. “The danger they face has been narrated in numerous previous orders. For example, the defendant tried to silence a witness by kidnapping members of his family (…) or tried to kill multiple collaborating witnesses, in addition to murdering the children of another witness. ”

Given this danger, “the government seeks to prohibit the dissemination of photographs and carbon drawings of the faces of witnesses who take the stand of the trial. The distribution of these images would increase the danger for all government witnesses, as well as their family members. ”
This is part of what will be seen in Brooklyn, New York, very soon, as early as next Monday.

Source: Vanguardia, Ras Noticias

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