U.S.

'El Chapo' Trial Escape a Laughing Matter After Brooklyn Courtroom Blackout

On Tuesday, just before the 25th day in the trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman began, the lights went out in the Brooklyn courtroom and one joker used the opportunity to pretend the Sinaloa Cartel kingpin had escaped.

“The lights briefly went out, it was pitch black inside the courtroom. When the lights came back on, somebody shouted, ‘He’s gone!’ Chapo hadn’t moved. Everybody laughed, except maybe the U.S. Marshals,” Keegan Hamilton of Vice News said, describing it as the day’s “most exciting moment.”

Guzman, 61, faces a 17-count indictment and is charged with crimes in six federal districts including drug trafficking with intent to distribute, money laundering, illegal possession of firearms, kidnapping and homicide. He faces life in prison, but not the death penalty, an agreement made to secure his 2017 extradition from Mexico.

Twice previously Guzman escaped imprisonment, first in 2001, when he bribed guards to release him from his cell and roll him out in a laundry cart. In 2015, El Chapo escaped again, this time from a maximum-security prison in Mexico, using a nearly mile-long tunnel between the prison’s showers to a construction site in the town of Almoloya de Juarez.

The trial of “El Chapo” Guzman has exposed stunning details from inside the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, including the organization’s soundproof “murder room,” equipped with a drain for blood and used by cartel hitman Antonio “Jaguar” Marrufo.

Tuesday proceedings included emotional testimony from Egar Ivan Galvan, a member of the Sinaloa Cartel operating out of El Paso, Texas, who is currently serving 24 years.

“At 18 she found out who her dad was,” Galvan said on the stand. “She doesn’t speak to me anymore. In the future I want my daughter to know I did the right thing.”

Additional testimony came from FBI special agent Stephen Marston, who described how the FBI obtained access to El Chapo’s “sophisticated” encrypted phone network by flipping Sinaloa Cartel IT expert Cristian Rodriquez. Several of Guzman’s calls were played for the jury, including with the Sinaloa Cartel’s alleged top assassin, Orso “El Cholo” Ivan Gastelum Cruz, who engaged in a shootout with the Mexican Army and Federal Police during the 2016 raid leading to El Chapo’s capture.

While the trial of “El Chapo” Guzman is ongoing, jury instruction documents filed by U.S. Attorneys could indicate the United States prosecution is approaching an end to their testimony against the cartel leader.

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