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U.S. prosecutors request identities of witnesses against ‘El Chapo’ be kept anonymous

February 3, 2017  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
U.S. prosecutors request identities of witnesses against ‘El Chapo’ be kept anonymous

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The District Attorney for the Eastern District of New York has requested to keep anonymity of the cooperating witnesses expected to testify against Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, who is scheduled to make his second court appearance in Brooklyn on Friday.

The prosecutor expressed concerns in a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Bryan M. Cogan, and urged that the identities of witnesses remain anonymous because “‘El Chapo’ has shown the capacity to intimidate and use violence against potential witnesses.”

According to El Universal, the US Attorney’s Office further noted that there is a significant risk that disclosure of information would put the lives of witnesses and their families at risk, as well as the integrity of investigations opened in other districts where charges are also pending against the alleged kingpin.

As JammedUp News previously reported, prosecutors have a witness list of 40 cooperating informants who could testify against ‘El Chapo.’

Justice Department prosecutors say as the leader of the Sinaloa Federation Cartel, Guzman allegedly hired Sicarios or assassins to carry out homicides, kidnappings, and acts of torture against rivals, police officials, and cooperating informants.

“He (‘El Chapo’) has taken advantage of his position of power within the criminal organization to silence potential witnesses and act against anyone who has provided information that can be used against him,” prosecutors wrote.

“His partner, Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada García, continues to lead the drug trafficking organization, he can issue orders to harm or murder witnesses and their families,” officials warned.

As a consequence, prosecutors request Guzmán not be provided with evidence related to the investigations into the cartel, including recordings related to the tracking of the drug lord while he remained on the run after escaping prison in 2015 and documents containing statements by witnesses, addresses, and identities.

Lawyers for ‘El Chapo’ have asked the judge to authorize officials from the Mexican consular to deliver some documents, “a few minutes before the start of Thursday’s hearing.”

‘El Chapo’ will appear for the hearing in person despite the fact the prosecution had requested the judge allow Guzmán appear for the proceeding by video conference to avoid the “disruption of physical transportation.”

The cartel leader has remained in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Corrections Center in downtown Manhattan since he was extradited from Mexico on January 20th.

However, the judge reversed course after Guzman’s attorneys Michael Schneider and Michelle Gelernt opposed the request and argued that preventing Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman from appearing in court would portray a negative impression.

“His absence from the courtroom would necessarily lead to the public impression that Mr. Guzman is too dangerous to be brought to the courtroom,” Guzman’s attorneys wrote.

Guzman faces a 17-count indictment on charges of criminal association, conspiracy to commit murder, international trafficking of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana, arms trafficking and money laundering.

If convicted, Guzman faces life in prison and prosecutors also seek a $14 billion forfeiture of assets derived as the leader of the Sinaloa criminal organization.

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