20 January 2019

Brooklyn federal court is trying Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán on drug trafficking charges. He was extradited to the US in 2017 to face charges of trafficking cocaine, heroin and other drugs into the country as leader of the Sinaloa cartel. A team of Mexican marines along with American liaison Victor Vasquez, a US Drug Enforcement Administration agent, set out to hunt down Guzman.  The picture above shows Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán being escorted from MacArthur airport.

The trial shows how the drug cartels are moving tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into United States despite tight security maintained at the borders. The drug lords bribed and received protection from top politicians and security forces.  This is also a bête noire for Donald Trump. It is not easy to protect the entire 3,145 kilometres of the border. Besides drugs are not smuggled only through the border. They are also transported by sea and air. Even building a wall will not solve the drug problem. Nine states in the US and Canada have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 29 states have allowed it for medicinal purposes. Therefore this is not a critical problem.

Alex Cifuentes, a state witness, told the court that “El Chapo” had paid $100 million bribe to former president Enrique Pena Nieto in 2012. He testified that Mr Pena Nieto initially demanded $US250 million from the cartel boss. He told the prosecutors that the bribe was paid in October 2012, when Mr Pena Nieto was president-elect. This is just a hearsay and cannot be believed. Cifuentes merely heard this from Guzmán  who is a crook. He may be telling this just to get some sympathy from the court. As his (Peña Nieto’s) former chief of staff said Peña Nieto would not have extradited Guzmán to the US if he had received $100 million.

Cifuentes was arrested in Mexico in 2013 and was later extradited to the United States where he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in a deal with prosecutors.

Peña Nieto’s former chief of staff, however, took to social media to reject the accusation. “The declarations of the Colombian drug trafficker in New York are false, defamatory and absurd,” tweeted Francisco Guzmán, adding that the Peña Nieto government “located, detained and extradited” the Mexican drug lord.

Lucero Guadalupe Sánchez López, Guzmán’s former mistress, took the stand on Thursday. She said that one day in early 2014, while the couple were in bed a squad of marines and US DEA agents surrounded the Miramar Hotel in Mazatlán. They were spotted by Guzmán’s most trusted gatekeeper who warned Guzmán. They then escaped through a tunnel hidden under a bathtub.

Later that year Sánchez was elected as a deputy to the state assembly. She served two years before being arrested in 2017 while entering the US, for drug trafficking and money laundering. She also turned state’s witness against the cartel chief.

In February 2014 president Enrique Pena Nieto captured El Chapo, but he escaped from the Altiplano maximum-security prison in central Mexico through a secret tunnel under his cell’s shower.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that bribes were paid to a senior adviser to the current president, Ándres Manuel López Obrador during his unsuccessful 2006 presidential campaign. Previous court papers mentioned bribes also paid to an official in his administration as mayor of Mexico City.

Jesús Zambada García, one of the leading figures in the cartel testified that some of the shipments of drugs from Colombia into Chiapas were guarded by government officials from attorney general’s office and the federal transport police. He added that a favourite means of transport to the US border was by gas container truck, with special compartments for cocaine within, which, if stopped and checked, released gas “so it would be difficult to find the cocaine. The Guardian reported.