Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman trafficked so much cocaine in just four shipments he supplied “more than a line of cocaine for every single person in the United States”.
During the opening of his trial in Brooklyn, New York, US prosecutors said the Mexican drug lord was so ruthless he would order the killings of his own family to ensure he rose to become the world’s biggest dealer.
Assistant US Attorney Adam Fels said authorities in the US had seized enough cocaine to form 328 million separate lines of the drug.
The prosecutor told the jury the 61-year-old crime boss had a payroll of corrupt officials and a violent army of sicarios – assassins – to protect his multibillion-dollar empire.
“Money, drugs, murder, a vast global narcotics trafficking organisation,” Fels told the jury. “That is what this case is about.” He said the Mexican armed himself with a diamond-encrusted handgun and a gold AK-47.
The government has accused Guzmán of having a hand in dozens of killings and his Sinaloa cartel of smuggling at least 200 tons of cocaine across the US-Mexico border in a fleet of yachts, planes, fishing boats and submarines.
Federal prosecutors yesterday set out a mountain of evidence, including drug ledgers, satellite photos and secretly recorded audiotapes. They have promised to show Guzmán raked in £11billion (£8.5billion) in illicit profits.
The defence denied Guzman was a drugs kingpin. Defence attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said: “They claim he’s the biggest drug dealer in the history of the world. It’s false. Not true.”
He said a Guzman conviction would be the “biggest prize” for prosecutors and claimed El Chapo was a scapegoat for the real leader of the Sinaloa cartel – Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.
“He’s blamed for being the leader while the real leaders are living freely and openly in Mexico,” Lichtman added.
He also said Zambada had been left free because he “bribes the entire government of Mexico including up to the very top, the current president of Mexico,” – Enrique Pena Nieto.
Outgoing President Nieto and his predecessor Felipe Calderon denied taking any bribes from the Sinaloa cartel.
El Chapo’s loyal wife Emma Coronel Aispuro was yesterday pictured arriving at the court. He faces life if found guilty.
Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman
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