In this Jan. 8, 2016 file photo, drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is made to face the media in Mexico City as he is escorted by Mexican soldiers following his recapture six months after escaping from a maximum security prison. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

Closing arguments in trial of Mexican drug lord ‘El Chapo’

Prosecutor: Joaquin Guzman feared prosecution on US soil

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was portrayed Wednesday in closing arguments at his U.S. trial as a ruthless Mexican drug lord who also became skilled at evading capture and escaping prison because he feared facing justice on American soil.

“Why didn’t the defendant want to get caught? I submit it was because he knew he was guilty,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Goldbarg told the jury. “He always had an escape plan in place.”

READ MORE: Woman testifies against El Chapo, details affair

The defendant, who knew he had been named in a U.S. indictment, had his Sinaloa cartel dig a mile-long (1.6-kilometre-long) tunnel to break him out a Mexican prison in 2014, a stunt showing “just how badly he wanted to avoid being here today,” she added.

The arguments came at a trial where Guzman is facing multiple drug and murder conspiracy charges that could land him in prison for life if he’s convicted. The defence, which was to give its closing on Thursday, insists the defendant’s role in the organization has been embellished, and that the real cartel boss remains on the loose in Mexico.

With Guzman at the defence table with three plainclothes deputy U.S. marshals seated immediately behind him, Goldbarg began her argument by recounting the testimony of a former cartel crony who claimed he witnessed Guzman nearly beat to death two men from Sinaloa after paid-off authorities told him they were working for a rival cartel. The witness said Guzman cursed at the men before shooting them in the head and ordering their bodies thrown on a bonfire.

“The cartel’s engines were corruption and violence,” she said. The combination allowed Guzman “to impose his will on anyone who got in his way,” she added.

READ MORE: US trial to tell epic tale of Mexican drug lord “El Chapo”

Goldbarg pointed to an “avalanche” of evidence including testimony from a former Colombian kingpin who said he supplied the cartel and received 55,000 kilograms (121,253 pounds) during the early 2000s with assurances from Guzman that he could get it across the U.S. border faster than anyone.

Of the 14 co-operators who took the witness stand, 11 testified that they took orders from the defendant, she said.

The prosecutor offered snippets of Guzman’s communications so the jury could hear him doing business “in his own words.” In one, he cautioned his father-in-law not to use radios when running drugs at the border because he had been tipped off to eavesdropping by border agents.

“This is the defendant running his empire,” Goldbarg said.

The prosecutors told jurors if they had any doubt Guzman was guilty, they should ask themselves why he acted the way he did: why he had bodyguards, hid out in the Sinaloa mountainside, dug secret trap doors in his safe houses and used spyware on his wife and two girlfriends.

“The questions could go on and on,” Goldbarg said. “The answer is common sense.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATE: One woman taken away on stretcher after three-vehicle collision at Maclure and Clearbrook Road intersection

Abbotsford emergency crews are on scene but traffic is slow eastbound on Maclure

Mennonite Central Committee hosts 50th annual Festival for World Relief

All the funds raised are going towards helping vulnerable people across the world

Zumiez coming to Abbotsford’s Sevenoaks Shopping Centre

Action sports retailer opening soon in Abbotsford mall

Missing man last seen in Chilliwack Sept. 7

Friends concerned for well-being of 44-year-old Jean Pierre Baril

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Pedestrian struck and killed by vehicle in Surrey

Investigators were asking anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Most Read