A lawyer for accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman instructed a New York jury in opening remarks that his shopper was a scapegoat for the actual chief of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.
“He’s blamed for being the chief whereas the actual leaders reside freely and overtly in Mexico,” legal professional Jeffrey Lichtman mentioned on the primary day of Guzman’s trial for drug smuggling in Brooklyn federal courtroom, which is anticipated to last as long as 4 months. “In fact he managed nothing. Mayo Zambada did.”
Lichtman additionally mentioned that Zambada had been left free as a result of he “bribes all the authorities of Mexico together with as much as the very prime, the present president of Mexico,” Enrique Pena Nieto.
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Pena Nieto’s spokesman mentioned of the accusation: “That’s false.”
Lichtman’s assertion got here after Assistant U.S. Lawyer Adam Fels laid out the U.S. authorities’s case, describing how prosecutors would show that Guzman rose from a low-level marijuana trafficker within the 1970s to guide the highly effective Sinaloa Cartel.
Fels mentioned that Guzman, 61, finally established relationships with Colombian cartels that allowed him to make billions of transferring cocaine. He mentioned jurors would see proof of seized cocaine shipments including as much as “greater than a line of cocaine for each single individual in the USA.”
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Fels instructed jurors that Guzman left a path of violence, turning components of Mexico into battle zones as he fought rivals to increase his attain. He mentioned jurors would hear of how Guzman personally shot two members of a rival cartel and ordered them thrown into holes and burned.
Guzman faces 17 felony counts and a attainable life sentence if he’s convicted.
The prosecutors’ witnesses are anticipated to incorporate former Guzman associates who are actually cooperating with the U.S. authorities in trade for extra favorable remedy, likely together with Zambada’s brother Jesus “El Rey” Zambada and son Vicente Zambada.
Lichtman spent a lot of his opening assertion attacking their credibility.
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“Why is the federal government going up to now on this case utilizing these gutter human beings because the proof?” he requested. “It’s as a result of the conviction of Chapo Guzman is the most important prize this prosecution may ever dream of.”
Lichtman urged jurors to “hold an open thoughts” and think about that each Mexican and U.S. regulation enforcement may very well be corrupt.
“They work collectively when it fits them, Mayo (Zambada) and the USA authorities,” he mentioned.
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Lichtman additionally strove to humanize the defendant, describing his childhood selling oranges, cheese and bread door to door in a poor village.
Tuesday’s opening statements have been delayed by hours when two of the jurors chosen final week dropped out of the case, forcing attorneys and U.S. District Decide Brian Cogan to select two new jurors. Lichtman didn’t end his assertion and is anticipated to renew Wednesday.
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Guzman, who twice dramatically escaped from Mexican most safety prisons, has been stored in solitary confinement in Manhattan. His trial is surrounded by extraordinary safety measures, with jurors escorted to and from courtroom by armed federal marshals.
Along with Lichtman, Guzman’s attorneys on the trial embody Eduardo Balarezo and William Purpura, who beforehand defended Mexican drug lord Alfredo Beltran Leyva, as soon as a associate and later a rival of Guzman. Beltran Leyva pleaded responsible to U.S. drug prices and was sentenced to life in jail by a federal choose in Washington final 12 months.