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Judge: Trial of “El Chapo” will remain in Brooklyn

August 16, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Judge: Trial of “El Chapo” will remain in Brooklyn DEA handout

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Nefarious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, will be forced to face trial in Brooklyn, a judge decided on Tuesday, shooting down the kingpin’s request to transfer his trial to Manhattan so he could utilize an underground passageway to get to court from his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Brooklyn federal Judge Brian Cogan said the infamous Sinaloa Cartel leader — who famously tunneled out of a prison on a motorcycle in Mexico back 2015 before being recaptured — should not be worried about security.

Cogan said Guzman’s projected four-month trial will take place under secure and top-secret conditions, according to The New York Times.

“The concerns are going to be alleviated,” Cogan said to Guzman’s attorney Eduardo Balarezo, noting that if the lawyer agreed to sign a non-disclosure contract, he would gain knowledge of the top-secret setup that will be implemented for his client.

After the hearing, Balarezo and co-counsel William Purpura thought about Guzman’s new possibilities, saying it was possible he could reside in the courthouse itself.

“We assume that based on the comments, the Marshal Service will house Joaquin here for the trial,” Purpura stated. “Whether he will return to Manhattan, we’re not sure.

“They’ve done it before, where they’ll build a facility,” the attorney said regarding Dandenys Muñoz Mosquera’s 1994 trial before Brooklyn federal Judge Sterling Johnson. Mosquera was indicted along with Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, though Escobar died before he could face trial.

When asked to explain if that meant “El Chapo” could be the federal courthouse’s newest resident, or if he would be moved to a local secure location, Purpura replied: “I think a facility close to the courthouse.”

The drug lord spent Tuesday’s hearing staring at his beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, who sat in the gallery a translation headset.

As Guzman stared, Balarezo repeated his requests that Cogan orders prosecutors to provide a witness list for the forthcoming trial, declaring he was “preparing with two hands tied and one eye closed.”

“Witnesses are going to be in danger when they are named,” Balarezo stated, faced with suggestions from prosecutors that he would provide the list to his client. “We don’t believe the government has come to the court to say Mr. Guzman has threatened to kill someone.”

“The risk is theoretical,” he continued.

Cogan didn’t provide a ruling on the motion, explaining that he needed additional time. He also said he’d issue an order later this week about whether accusations of El Chapo’s prior violent ways could be used against him at sentencing if he is convicted.

As Tuesday’s proceeding concluded, the judge urged the defense to rethink their decision to not agree on a single piece of evidence — a move that is anticipated to prolong the already long trial.

Purpura openly said his office would consider agreeing to some conditions if the government decides to drop some of the charges against his client.

“Anyone of these counts carries a life sentence,” the attorney said of the 17-count indictment on drug-trafficking charges. “He has one life.”

Aispuro followed the hearing with a trip to the courthouse candy shop, where concessionaire Jermaine Mack said she sipped on a Red Bull — while sitting on a dingy cart he uses to transport merchandise.

“El Chapo” is scheduled to appear back in court on September 10th, and jury selection is expected to commence on November 5th.

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