In this Rolling Stone article, reporter Hannah Murphy lays out what is known about U.S. law enforcement authorities’ case against “El Chapo.”
After decades of evading the authorities with almost mythic agility, New York’s Eastern District has finally pinned Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán down in a lower Manhattan jail. The Sinaloa cartel kingpin faces what U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers called “a 17-count, sweeping indictment,” including drug distribution, money laundering and most broadly, “leading a continuing criminal enterprise” – which covers his activity from 1989 to present day. If charged with that alone, he faces a mandatory minimum of life in prison.
Even for a drug lord, he moved a LOT of drugs.
The vast majority of the evidence against Guzmán and the movements of the Sinaloa cartel are drug seizures by the U.S. government. In a 2014 indictment against him and his first lieutenant, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García, the United States charged him with 163 violations of international cocaine distribution, totaling an approximate 457,212 kilograms (roughly 500 U.S. tons) of the drug. In 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s office itemized their cocaine seizures by individual busts. They go back as far as September 1999, just ten years after Guzmán reportedly entered the drug business, and they found as much as 12,000 kilos of cocaine in a single raid.
He’s on the hook for a handful of murders as well.
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