Joaquín Guzmán, also known as El Chapo, has been found guilty of counts including money laundering, the distribution of cocaine and heroin, and illegal firearms possession. While he has yet to be sentenced, it seems likely that these counts will result in him serving a life sentence in prison.
This trial marks the end of an era for the former head of the Sinaloa drug cartel.
The prosecution painted a picture of Joaquín Guzmán that was grisly and hard to stomach. Guzmán was depicted as a merciless killer in the trial. He was said to be a ruthless drug kingpin and a man who loved little more than extravagant displays of his ill-gotten gains. Symbols like gold-plated AK’s and diamond-encrusted pistols were invoked alongside executed drug mules, kidnapped rivals and tortured pushers.
During his time as the head of the Sinaloa cartel, Guzmán rose rapidly to international infamy. His reputation for brutality underscored his extreme wealth. At one point, he was stated to be worth $1 billion.
In court, witnesses attested to various crimes they saw Guzmán engage in. One former lieutenant attested that Guzmán one savagely beat two rival cartel members senseless before shooting them both in the head. Another rival was burned alive, imprisoned, shot and then buried alive.
Most alarming were the reports from former cartel members that Guzmán would have girls as young as 13 drugged before raping them. Guzmán is said to have referred to the girls as his “vitamins,” as he claimed that raping them “gave him life.”
Guzmán twice escaped Mexican prisons before being extradited to the US. His trial and its verdict mark the biggest break for the US in the ongoing battle with Mexican drug cartels. US and Mexican authorities have been fighting tooth-and-nail with the cartels in the last few decades, trying to stem the influx of illegal drugs these cartels illegally import to the US.
Guzmán’s arrest and trial mark a new era for the ongoing battle. US authorities hope that Guzmán’s trial serves as a warning to any other potential kingpins.