Ahead of his upcoming federal court trial, notorious Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has promised he will not kill any jurors — an assurance that sounds more sinister than comforting, to be honest.
El Chapo, who has previously made headlines for staging rather dramatic escapes from prison and then being arrested in an even more theatrical fashion, was extradited to the United States and has a long history of violence. He has also been accused of silencing potential witnesses and killing those who assisted the law enforcement officials or provided them information about him.
It is also important to note that Vicente Antonio Bermúdez Zacaría, a Mexican federal judge who reportedly presided over the extradition case of “the principal leader” of the Sinaloa cartel, was assassinated while jogging outside his home near Mexico City last year.
As the New York Post reported, the 60-year-old mafia boss made the vow in a legal plea after it was revealed the prosecutors had asked Brooklyn Federal Court Justice Brian Cogan to provide heightened security to the anonymous jury members, which included moving them to a secure location for the duration of the trial and having armed guards protect them.
However, as El Chapo’s defense lawyer put it, these measures are unnecessary.
“This sends the message to each juror that he or she needs to be protected from Mr. Guzman. From there, members of the jury could infer that Mr. Guzman is both dangerous and guilty,” defense lawyer A. Eduardo Balarezo stated in a recently filed motion.
The lawyer added the government’s fears about Guzmán being a threat to jurors is based on “untested and suspect statements from cooperators seeking to reduce their own sentences.” He also suggested instead of impaneling an anonymous jury, their identity could just be kept from El Chapo and the media.
The Sinaloa cartel leader is facing a number of serious charges — including drug smuggling, money laundering and international cocaine trafficking.
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Edgard Garrido