Quantcast
Connect with us

Mexico drug lord ‘El Chapo’ pleads not guilty in US court

Published

on

Drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman appeared in a U.S. court on Friday after his surprise extradition from Mexico and pleaded not guilty to charges that he ran the world’s largest drug-trafficking organization during a decades-long criminal career.

Guzman, 59, once one of the world’s most wanted drug lords, was accompanied by two court-appointed lawyers during the appearance in federal court in Brooklyn.

ADVERTISEMENT

Best known by the nickname El Chapo, or “Shorty” in Spanish, the diminutive Guzman was extradited on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, raising speculation about the timing.

Some officials said it was an olive branch to the incoming U.S. president, who had said he would kick Guzman’s “ass” after taking office. But some Mexican officials pointed out that Guzman’s extradition came hours before Barack Obama’s term ended in a nod to the outgoing president.

Either way current and former law enforcement officials on both sides of the border said the move would likely boost security cooperation and smooth the path for improved relations between the neighbors.

The Mexican attorney general’s office rejected claims the move was related to Trump’s swearing-in, noting that Guzman faces 10 pending cases in Mexico following his U.S. sentence.

ADVERTISEMENT

Guzman, who was once known to carry a gold-plated AK-47 rifle, wore a blue jail uniform. Standing just 5 foot 6 inches (167.6 cm), El Chapo was clean-shaven, without his signature mustache, and his hair was close-cropped.

He did not appear to be wearing handcuffs and had no visible expression on his face as he listened to questions from a judge.

After U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein asked Guzman if he understood the accusations against him, he responded through a Spanish interpreter, “Well, I didn’t know until now.” Later, when asked again, Guzman said he understood.

ADVERTISEMENT

An additional hearing was scheduled for Feb. 3.

Guzman’s lawyers promised a zealous defense to ensure he receives a fair trial, and they said they would examine whether Guzman was extradited appropriately.

“I haven’t seen any evidence that indicates to me that Mr. Guzman’s done anything wrong. Most of you probably haven’t seen any evidence like that either,” federal public defender Michael Schneider told reporters outside the courthouse.

ADVERTISEMENT

The indictment in Brooklyn against Guzman, with 17 criminal counts, carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison, Robert Capers, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said at a news conference earlier in the day.

U.S. prosecutors have more than 40 witnesses ready to testify against Guzman, Capers told reporters, adding that the eventual trial will likely last “many” weeks.

“Who is Chapo Guzman? In short, he’s a man known for no other life but a life of crime, violence, death and destruction, and now he’ll have to answer to that,” Capers said.

ADVERTISEMENT

As leader of the notorious Sinaloa cartel, Guzman oversaw perhaps the world’s largest transnational cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine smuggling operation, playing a key role in Mexico’s decade-long drug war that has killed over 100,000 people.

El Chapo was captured a year ago after he had fled a high-security penitentiary in central Mexico through a mile-long tunnel, his second dramatic prison escape.

After court on Friday, he was being sent to a federal jail in New York City that holds prisoners who have pending cases. U.S. authorities, citing security concerns, declined to say where he would be held for the months before trial, but they vowed to prevent any further escapes.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I assure you, no tunnel will be built leading to his bathroom,” Special Agent In Charge Angel Melendez of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations said at the news conference.

Guzman arrived in a small jet at Long Island’s MacArthur Airport after nightfall on Thursday from a prison in Juarez in the northern state of Chihuahua, where his cartel rules.

A few hours earlier, Guzman was bundled out of the Mexican cell block with his hands cuffed above his bowed head, Mexican television footage showed.

ADVERTISEMENT

U.S. prosecutors gave assurances to Mexican officials that they would not seek the death penalty in order to secure his extradition, Capers said. Mexico opposes capital punishment.

(Writing by Alexandra Alper and David Ingram; Additional reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Tom Brown and James Dalgleish)

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

5.0 earthquake strikes Ridgecrest, California — two months after 7.1

Published

on

Two months after the 7.1 earthquakes that hit outside of Los Angeles, another more modest quake was detected, ABC-7 reported.

While the location of the quake was about 20 miles north of Ridgecrest, California, at the Naval Air Warfare Center China Lake. People as far away as Clark County, Nevada also felt the rumble Thursday afternoon.

https://twitter.com/ClarkCountyNV/status/1164643506494689280

It left several people asking if it was considered a foreshock or a really late aftershock from two months ago.

Continue Reading

Facebook

92% of HPV-caused cancers could be prevented by vaccine: health authority

Published

on

An estimated 92% of cancers caused by HPV could be prevented through vaccination, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday, adding that boosting immunization coverage was a key priority.

Human papillomavirus was responsible for an estimated yearly average of 34,800 cancer cases between 2012 and 2016, according to a new study published by the CDC, meaning that more than 32,100 cases could have been avoided annually.

The virus can lead to cancers in both men and women, including cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

New poll shows Republicans may get wiped out — in Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky

Published

on

This year, Republicans may be heading for a rough election in an unlikely state: Kentucky.

New internal Democratic polls reveal that the GOP is struggling in three critical Kentucky races taking place in November. In the gubernatorial race, incumbent GOP Gov. Matt Bevin is trailing Democratic Attorney General Steve Beshear 48 to 39.

Further down the ballot, the GOP is also vulnerable. In the attorney general race to replace Beshear, former Democratic state House Speaker Greg Stumbo is ahead 46 to 39 against Republican Daniel Cameron, the former legal counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And in the secretary of state race, where incumbent Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is retiring, Democratic former Second Lady of Kentucky and Miss America 2000 pageant winner Heather French Henry leads GOP former Justice Department lawyer Michael Adams 52 to 37.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image