El Chapo guilty: Will his jailing change anything? - Diversity Media || Your 1st Choice

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El Chapo guilty: Will his jailing change anything?

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The trial and conviction of the notorious Joaquín Guzmán Loera, also known as El Chapo, told us much about the man, the multi-billion drugs trade and the attempts to stop it.
Guzmán, the notorious Mexican drug-cartel leader, has a nervous tic.
He tugs at his right lapel. On difficult days in the courtroom, such as when his ex-mistress testified, he pulled at his jacket more than usual.
He stood trial in New York for drug trafficking charges after successfully evading US and Mexican authorities for years and escaping from prison in Mexico on two occasions.
Other times during the trial, he glanced around the room in a furtive manner. He is known for tunnelling his way to freedom, and people in the room said jokingly that he was looking for an escape route.
Shortly before the jury began their deliberations, Guzmán stopped searching for a way out. He listened intently to the judge. The man who had once overseen the Sinaloa cartel, an enterprise fuelled by cocaine, violence and terror, looked uneasy.
Now he has been found guilty of all 10 criminal counts related to drug trafficking. He faces life in prison, and officials say that most likely he will be taken to a federal supermax in Colorado.
Guzmán was legendary for the tunnels he used to transport drugs under the US-Mexico border as well as to flee prison and escape from authorities. But no-one has ever escaped from the supermax, a place that a warden once described as "a clean version of hell". Chances are Guzmán will die there.
From a business perspective, he'd had a good run. He made $14bn (£11bn) over the course of his career, according to prosecutors.
He trafficked in cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs, explained a US assistant attorney, and he oversaw a network of dealers, kidnappers and "henchmen", a team of assassins on his payroll.
Two years ago, Guzmán was extradited to the US. His three-month trial in a New York courtroom featured more than 50 government witnesses, including men and women who had pursued him for years as well as former cartel associates who decided to testify against him in the hope that they would receive lighter sentences.
The government's first witness, Carlos Salazar, a retired customs agent, says he has seen up close the violence that Guzmán and his cartel members inflict on people.
Salazar had "butterflies" in his stomach when he walked into the courtroom and testified about a tunnel in Arizona that he had found, one that Guzmán used for hauling bricks of cocaine underneath the US-Mexico border.
Still, Salazar says: "I did make it a point to look in his direction. I made eye contact."
Individuals such as Salazar and Brennan, who work or have worked in law enforcement but were not involved in the prosecution, still see the trial as vindication. "It's rewarding to see that at the highest level of narcotics distribution, someone would be held accountable," says New York City's special narcotics prosecutor, Bridget Brennan. "There's satisfaction in that."
"He wreaked havoc in the US for many, many years," says Michael McGowan, a former FBI undercover agent and the author of Ghost, a book that describes one of the bureau's investigations of Guzmán. "It's time to face the music."
Washington officials were paying attention: Matthew Whitaker, the acting US attorney general, was in the courtroom one day, shaking hands with prosecutors. The announcement of the verdict was a "proud day" for them, says Mark Feierstein, a former senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs on the national security council. But he warns: "We're not going to win the drug war by prosecuting El Chapo."
The US spends more than $47bn (£36bn) every year in the fight against illicit drugs, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, a non-profit organisation based in New York. Yet despite the efforts to arrest drug makers, dealers and kingpins, the problem remains daunting. In 2017, 72,000 people died from accidental drug overdoses in the US.
Some analysts say that the jury's verdict in the trial will lead to more violence because traffickers will now fight over territory in a post-Chapo narco-land. "This is a corporate struggle," says Dennis Jay Kenney, a former police sergeant who is now a professor at John Jay College in New York. While the cartel members jostle for power, he says: "There'll be more bodies hanging from bridges in Mexico."
The trial could have been held in Chicago, Miami or any number of other US cities, since Guzmán and members of his cartel had operated across the nation.
But officials in the US attorney general's office decided the New York prosecutors had the best chance of winning the case.
Homeland security vans were parked outside the courthouse each morning during the trial. A Geiger counter was located in the lobby, sitting on a table next to a gas mask.
"Cagey, wily", says narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan, describing Guzmán: "Really bold".
The trial showed Guzmán's human side. He and Mariel Colón Miró, a member of his legal team and a recent law-school graduate, sat next to each other in the courtroom and passed notes back and forth. "It's been a client-attorney relationship and very professional," she says. "But there's always room for laughs."
In Mexico, ballads known as "narcocorridos" are devoted to him, and a 2014 pollsuggested most people believed he was more powerful than the Mexican government.
People in Culiacán, a city in the Mexican municipality where Guzmán grew up, adore him. "A magnificent person," a bookseller told Reuters: "It's such a pity he won't be able to escape from the United States."
Guzmán is famous in the US too. At a bagel shop a couple miles from the courthouse, the El Chapo is made with jalapeño cream cheese (cartel members used to pack cocaine into jalapeño cans). In a Netflix series Narcos: Mexico, he is portrayed as a cunning, violent man.

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