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“El Chapo” hires John Gotti’s attorney, other heavy-hitting lawyers for trial against the feds

August 10, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
“El Chapo” hires John Gotti’s attorney, other heavy-hitting lawyers for trial against the feds

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Notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has finally lawyered up — and his new attorneys revealed that he has every intention of slugging it out with the government when his case goes to trial.

According to the New York Daily News,  “El Chapo” Guzman has obtained a team of  heavyweight veteran attorneys who know what it takes to defend against federal prosecutions — and the team includes the attorney for the son of the “Teflon Don.”

Jeffrey Lichtman’s prior work included preventing Manhattan prosecutors as they repeatedly attempted to pin John A. Gotti Jr. — the son of the notorious Gambino boss — on a myriad of charges.

DEA officers are seen leading El Chapo through the airport after he was extradited to the US in January

After four deadlocked juries, officials gave up in 2010. Lichtman was the defense attorney for the first trial; another lawyer took on the case for the following three.

During the initial trial in 2005, Lichtman helped Gotti trip up dupe by saying his client had left “the life” in 1999 — which he maintained meant time had run out on the racketeering case. Additionally, Lichtman helped with hard-hitting cross examinations of mafia turncoats who testified for the prosecution.

After eight days of deliberation, Gotti was acquitted by jurors on securities fraud conspiracy but were deadlocked on the remaining racketeering charges, including the allegation that Gotti ordered a 1992 assault on Curtis Sliwa, the radio host and Guardian Angels founder. Sliwa had talked about Gotti’s father — the Teflon Don — on his show.

Before going off on his own, Lichtman worked as an associate for top defense lawyer Jerry Shargel.

According to the Daily News, other attorneys hired by Guzman are Marc Fernich – who represented Gotti with Lichtman during his original trial — along with A. Eduardo Balarezo and William Purpura.

New York City super attorney Jeffrey Lichtman will represent “El Chapo” in his upcoming trial (Jeffrey Lichtman)

Balarezo has represented incarcerated Mexican drug lord Alfredo Beltran Leyva, and there’s probably going to be overlaps in facts and witnesses between the two cases.

With a nickname meaning to “desert ant,” Beltran Leyva pleaded guilty last year, but later wish to retract his plea and go to trial. A federal judge in D.C. wouldn’t allow it and Beltran Leyva trying to appeal his life sentence.

Purpura worked as part of Beltran Leyva’s legal team.

In a statement, Balarezo said “we are prepared to defend Guzman to the fullest extent to ensure that his rights are protected, and he is not steamrolled by the government and its train of cooperators. We will ensure the jury distinguishes truth and myth. Guzman is looking forward to his day in court.”

Lichtman also added: “There will be no plea deal. There will be no plea discussions. We are going to trial.”

Lichtman represented John Gotti Jr.(center) also known as “Junior” Gotti, during the trial of the son of late mob boss John Gotti (Original Filename: 0000_00_00_Cacciopoli_Junior_Cavallo.jpg)

The reputed leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel is scheduled to stand trial in in April 2018, for a 17-count drug trafficking indictment which can last up to three months.

Lichtman said Guzman is doing as well considering he spent so much time cut off from the world in a tiny cell, facing a life sentence in a foreign country and is only allowed to speak with attorneys through plexiglass.

“El Chapo” is “scared, confused and deteriorating,” Lichtman added. “He’s being treated significantly worse than the Guantanamo Bay terrorists.”

Fernich added that the incoming legal team shared the matter with the Federal Defenders about Guzman’s conditions, which, Fernich said were “unprecedented” and are compromising Guzman’s right to help build a defense and get a fair trial.

He was also concerned that prosecutors hadn’t provided assurances they wouldn’t come after the defense team’s fees. “If it works out, we plan to contest the charges vigorously.”

Guzman was quickly extradited to New York in January, during the last remaining hours of the Obama Administration. He’s had government-appointed attorneys since he arrived.

U.S. authorities have not located a single dollar of “El Chapo’s” fortune

They’ve fought to improve Guzman’s conditions and meet with him in person. Early this month, the lawyers — Michelle Gelernt, Michael Schneider, and Edward Zas — moved to get the case dismissed. They claimed that Guzman’s extradition to Brooklyn was defective, but prosecutors maintain that the decision was valid.

On Monday, the Federal Defenders filed a document indicating that Guzman retained attorneys, but they were hesitant to formally enter the case without certainties that prosecutors wouldn’t go after their fees.

Prosecutors say the drug lords smuggled tons of drugs — literally — into the U.S. and operated his Sinaloa Cartel with violent efficiency for years, killing witnesses and rivals while bribing politicians.

Lichtman said Guzman wasn’t well versed in the U.S. criminal justice system and spoke with dozens of attorneys.

“He has made clear that he wanted a fighter who was fearless and has had experience trying — and winning — in cases of this magnitude,” Lichtman noted.

Prosecutors have referred to “El Chapo” as “the most notorious drug trafficker in the world.” They added that they have dozens of witnesses- such as Colombian cartel heads and suppliers-ready to spill information about Guzman.

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