Defense Gives Closing in "El Chapo" Trial

The Government gave an all day closing argument yesterday in the trial of el Chapo. Shorter version: We're not asking you to like our 13 dirty snitches, most of whom will get visas to stay in the U.S. permanently, we're asking you to presume they are telling the truth and find El Chapo guilty.

Jeffrey Lichtman, the most bombastic of El Chapo's lawyers, is giving the defense closing. Three themes:

1. Where is Mayo, why isn't he here? While Chapo was being "hunted like an animal," El Mayo was "sitting on his ass, sunning himself, smoking a cigar."

2. Would you want to be put away based on the testimony of 14 lying, thieving snitches, some of whom are admitted murderers and all of whom are being paid for their testimony with promises of leniency for their own misdeeds?

3. It's the corruption. "He's paying everybody from the local beat cops up to the president." Mayo's sons get sweetheart deals, Mayo stays free, and the universe falls on El Chapo to take the blame. [More...]

The Indictment began with 85 drug violations in one count (continuing criminal enterprise) and some substantive offenses. The Government dismissed more than 50 of the drug violations before trial, and then added a few that the Grand Jury hadn't considered (by way of a Bill of Particulars). The Government did such a bang-up job of re-numbering that it's very difficult to follow what he's charged now with. I did my best to show the changes here. I also made a copy of the Indictment with dismissed counts struck in red and remaining counts highlighted in yellow. (Here is the Government's Verdict Form as of 2/1/9).

After the defense finishes, the prosecution gets one more bite at the apple, because they have the burden of proof.

There will be no court tomorrow, and deliberations will begin Monday. The defense wants the jury to find Chapo not guilty of being a principal administrator of an organization that made more than $10 million in a single year. That is what carries a mandatory life sentence. (That's why his lawyers wanted the stipulation that was entered this week that El Chapo said he was $20 million in debt from 2007 to 2013.) The verdict form requires the jury to determine:

Has the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the enterprise received $10 million or more in gross receipts during at least one 12-month period from the manufacture, importation, or distribution of cocaine?

Chapo was in prison from 1993 to 2001, again from 2014 to 2015 and from 2016 to the present. I really don't think he has ever been the biggest fish in the Sinaloa pond.

I see this case as multiple conspiracies, not a single conspiracy. I don't think the Government picked the most credible cooperators -- although maybe they didn't have anyone else willing to testify.

No one seems troubled by using the rubric of a continuing conspiracy to make someone respond to charges that occurred 30 years ago. How do you defend yourself against something that happened so long ago? Are the witnesses still alive? How would you find them? Would they remember?

After this, I wonder what happens to Ema. She was the real star of this trial. The media photographed her every move. I think she will start her own fashion business and become an icon in her own right. She just opened her own instagram account (all those others were fakes) and almost every account she follows is a designer or fashion celebrity. Maybe she'll start her own line of clothing or shoes. Maybe she'll just license her name. Maybe she'll be a guest on a reality show and then get her own. Maybe she'll host a news or fashion show on Telemundo. The possibilities are endless.

I don't think anything will change after this trial. The president of Mexico just announced the war on drugs is dead, and Mexico will no longer pursue a strategy of arresting cartel leaders.

This was a long and costly show of government prowess at our expense. On top of which, while our government won't let law-abiding refugees into our country, it's handing out permanent visas to cooperating drug traffickers when they finish their sentence like candy -- including violent ones.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Thank you, Jeralyn, for laying out (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Peter G on Thu Jan 31, 2019 at 06:44:48 PM EST
    the defendant's perspective. I was counting on you to do that. I had not been following the trial and definitely was wondering what the defense team would have to say.

    I've always thought (none / 0) (#3)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Feb 04, 2019 at 09:34:32 AM EST
    That helped explain their obsession with ElChapo and the like

    Such an obvious subtext

    that comment was deleted (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Feb 05, 2019 at 01:37:40 PM EST
    for potentially libelous accusations presented as fact. Dadler, you know better.

    The jury has found Guzman guilty (none / 0) (#7)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 12, 2019 at 12:02:35 PM EST
    on all counts, after several days of deliberation.