Mexico’s most infamous drug trafficker–and maybe the biggest drug lord of all time–Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as El Chapo, or Shorty, is on trial in Brooklyn New York. He’s facing a 17-count indictment for drug trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping and murder.
El Chapo pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison.
Terrified jurors are subject to unprecedented security precautions. One juror broke down in tears when she found out she’d been selected for the trial.
Mexico has captured and held El Chapo in maximum security prisons twice before.
In 2001, he escaped with the help of prison guards that hid him in a laundry cart. He escaped again in 2015 by driving away on a motorcycle that was left at the end of a mile-long tunnel, dug for him, and opening into the shower in his prison cell.
When Mexican authorities recaptured El Chapo, they turned him over to the US.
Guzman headed up the world’s most powerful drug organization, the Sinaloa Cartel, from 1989 to 2014, bringing up to $10 million of cocaine into the US a day.
on the take
From two months of testimony at the trial, it’s been clear: nearly every level of the Mexican government is on the take: Prison guards, airport officials, police officers, prosecutors, tax assessors and military personnel have been on Sinoloa payroll.
Mexico’s new president
Past Mexico president Felipe Calderón declared war on organized crime a decade ago. The violence that followed claimed 200,000 lives and left more than 30,000 missing.
Newly-elected president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, has a plan to end his country’s failed, decade-long struggle. Geek out on AMLO’s transitional justice here.
Will transitional justice work to pull Mexico out of the drug cartel’s grip? Let’s take a look.