By Ethan Johnson
After three years since his capture back in 2016, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been found guilty of drug trafficking on Tuesday. The 61-year-old infamous drug kingpin was extradited to the U.S. in 2017
In a three month long trial where a massive amount of evidence was presented against El Chapo, many provided testimony that linked the drug lord to many murders. The trial was under heavy security and the jurors were all kept secret. Guzman was then found guilty in an unanimous vote. It is expected that El Chapo will be sentenced to serve life in prison.
El Chapo is the highest profile drug lord that the United States has prosecuted. This marks a big step in the war against drug trafficking into the U.S. from Mexican cartels.
First captured in 1993, the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel has escaped two mexican prisons, once in 2001 and again in 2014. He was wanted for smuggling drugs from Mexico into the United States, murder, rape, and a variety of other crimes.
During the trial, Colombian drug trafficker Alex Cifuentes testified that Guzman had drugged and raped girls as young as 13 and even referred to them as his “vitamins” saying that he believed that they gave him life. Cifuentes also said that Guzman had bribed Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto. Another witness said that they had seen the drug lord kill at least three people. Other crimes he was accused of included ordering the death of his own cousin for lying about being out of town and ordering a hit on another cartel leader’s brother for not shaking his hand.
While Guzman won’t be sentenced until June, it is thought that he will be sent to the U.S. federal supermax prison, ADX Florence, because of his history of escapes. ADX Florence is located in Florence, Colorado and is known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” The prison is home to criminals deemed too dangerous to be held in a lower security prison or have too high of an escape risk. Some of the most notable inmates include The Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, Boston Marathon Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and hacker Joseph Konopka also known as Dr. Ch@os.
The ADX supermax prison has the tightest security of any other prison in America. Prisoners are kept in their cells for 23 hours a day. Whenever a prisoner is outside of their cell they are escorted by a minimum of three guards. There is no contact between any of the prisoners and all of the cells are soundproof to prevent communication through morse code. There are 1,400 doors within the prison that can all be closed and locked with the press of a “panic button”. Despite El Chapo’s past of breaking out of Mexican prisons, it is unlikely that he will ever leave ADX Florence.
Guzman was born to farmers in Mexico in the year 1957. He began his life of crime by working for the Guadalajara Cartel before starting his own, the Sinaloa Cartel. He soon became one of the biggest drug traffickers in the world with Forbes estimating a worth of $1 billion in 2009. He got the name El Chapo, “Shorty”, from his height which stands at 5 feet and 6 inches.
His first escape from prison was in 2001 on January 19th when he bribed guards to allow him out of his cell and then hid in a laundry basket. The second escape was in 2014 when El Chapo escaped through a mile long tunnel that had been dug into his cell. Once again, evidence showed that the guards had failed to stop Guzman’s escape even though reports state that the digging could be heard from his cell. When he was finally recaptured in 2016, Mexico's government quickly began the process of extraditing him to be tried in the U.S.
Despite his infamy, Guzman is praised as a folk hero back in his home state. He also once gave an interview to actor Sean Penn in 2016 from a Mexican Jungle. It is rumored that this interview may have led to his final arrest.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz has proposed that the roughly $14 billion dollars that will be seized from El Chapo should go towards paying for President Trump’s border wall.
Since his capture in 2016, Guzman’s Cartel has been run by Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, one the the oldest of the remaining drug lords in Mexico. It would appear that although El Chapo’s fate is sealed, the drug cartels and gangs terrorizing Mexico will continue.