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Family of Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán may not fund defense for upcoming trial

February 16, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Family of Mexican drug lord  Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán may not fund defense for upcoming trial DEA handout

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The relatives of infamous drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán are thinking of stopping the funding for his defense, a source familiar with the case told the press outlet El Universal.

The former head of the Sinaloa Cartel was extradited to the U.S. last January where he is facing 17 drugs and weapons-related charges.

According to Mexico News Daily, the unidentified source said that Guzmán’s family believes that the case is impossible to win and therefore see no reason to continue to pay exorbitant fees to the former capo’s attorneys.

Instead, they think that that the cash would be better spent protecting the cartel’s current leadership group, including drug lord Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

The source added that the family also cited a lack of direct access to Guzmán as further reasoning to cease funding the case.

Since he was extradited, Guzmán has been held in a maximum-security prison in New York where he has had no contact with family or former associates, making it impossible for him to tell them where to get the money needed to pay his attorneys.

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán

“El Chapo” pictured after his extradition to the U.S.

For months after he left Mexico, Guzmán was represented by public defenders, but in August he hired two teams of attorneys, including one high-profile lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman.

However, the attorney, who had previously represented New York mobster John Gotti Jr., ultimately decided not to take the case, telling El Universal that his decision was based on the likelihood that he would never be compensated for his work.

That left the other team employed by Guzmán to take over the case.

Since the beginning of September, another well-known criminal attorney, Eduardo Balarezo, has taken over as Guzmán’s private counsel and chief defense attorney.

In November, the New York Times reported that Balarezo is working for a fraction of his typical fee and said that “prosecutors have declined to give assurances that any money will be left to pay him” after the case because the government intends to seize billions of dollars of illicit proceeds made by Guzmán.

On December 24th, Balarezo asked that the date of the trial be postponed because “the defense team is insufficiently funded” to get ready for it.

In January, the presiding judge granted the request to reschedule the trial to September.

However, if relatives of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán proceed with the plan to stop funding of the case, it could result in Balarezo opting out.

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