CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, once considered Chicago’s public enemy number one, was found guilty on all 10 federal criminal counts on Tuesday in New York City, following a three-month trial. Several men who testified against the drug lord they once worked for have Chicago connections.
Vicente Zambada, who pleaded guilty to trafficking and conspiracy in Chicago, testified against Guzman. Among other things, Zambada said on the stand that 99 percent of the weapons the cartel had came from the U.S.
Zambada also agreed not to contest the government’s seizure of $1.3 billion in ill-gotten assets in a related case brought in Chicago in 2009. Security has been a concern since his extradition to Chicago in 2010 . He wasn’t allowed on a rooftop recreational area at his city jail from fear a sniper could shoot him from an adjacent skyscraper.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman urged the jury in closing arguments not to believe government witnesses who “lie, steal, cheat, deal drugs and kill people.”
The trial cast a harsh glare on the corruption that allowed the cartel to flourish. Colombian trafficker Alex Cifuentes caused a stir by testifying that former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto took a $100 million bribe from Guzman. Peña Nieto denied it, but the allegation fit a theme: politicians, army commanders, police and prosecutors, all on the take.
Pedro and Margarito Flores were known simply as “the twins” in the Sinaloa cartel circle — identical twin brothers from the streets of Chicago who became so good at distributing cocaine to urban centers in the U.S. that Guzman sought them out.
Pedro Flores took the witness stand last week to testify about their wildly lucrative business partnership with Guzman, still exibiting a sense of awe about the defendant not shown by more-hardened cooperators. While others simply referred to Guzman as Chapo, Spanish for “shorty,” Flores kept calling him “The Man.”
Flores, 37, described how, after becoming a fugitive in Mexico, he and his brother continued running their U.S. network with enough success that he was summoned to a meeting with Guzman in mountains in Sinaloa. He and Guzman’s cohorts were driving up a road to the compound when he was startled to see a naked man, apparently being tortured.
“He was tied to a tree with a chain,” he said, adding that he never learned what happened to him.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.