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Mexico's 'El Chapo,' notorious cartel boss, convicted in United States trial

13 February 2019
Mexico's 'El Chapo,' notorious cartel boss, convicted in United States trial

Jurors agreed with prosecutors that he amassed huge wealth and power leading 'the world's largest and most prolific drug trafficking organization.' They heard blood-curdling evidence about how El Chapo once beat and shot a worker who defected to a rival cartelk, before burying him alive.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, center, leaves Brooklyn federal court in NY, after attending the trial of her husband Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, on January 17, 2019.

Biting his lip, his eyes red as he appeared to continually fight back tears, the small-fry cartel killer - who was convicted in Brooklyn court Tuesday and now faces life in prison - was a far cry from the picture painted of him by United States authorities as the ruthless head of the world's largest illicit-drug network.

Guzman, whose nickname means "Shorty", was extradited to the United States for trial in 2017 after he was arrested in Mexico the year before.

Guzman sat and showed no emotion while the verdict was read.

Guzman leaned back in his chair Tuesday to catch the eye of his wife, who gave him a subtle thumbs-up, when the jury was discharged from a federal courthouse in Brooklyn.

The most detailed evidence against Guzman came from more than a dozen former associates who struck deals to cooperate with USA prosecutors.

In this courtroom drawing, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, centre, sits at the defence table while listening to the judge addressing the jury during his long-running drug trafficking trial in NY.

The tension at times was cut by some of the trial's sideshows, such as the sight of Guzman and his wife showing up in matching burgundy velvet blazers in a gesture of solidarity.

Estimates of how much money Guzman made from drugs vary.

The drug lord, 61, faced charges of running a large-scale drug operation as the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel. In 2009, Forbes Magazine put him on its list of the world s richest people, with an estimated $US1 billion.

The most shocking allegation came from Guzman's former top aide Alex Cifuentes, who accused former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto of taking a $100 million bribe from Guzman. He was free at that point after a dramatic escape in which he tunneled out of a Mexican prison. Another day, a Chapo-size actor who played the kingpin in the TV series "Narcos: Mexico" came to watch, telling reporters that seeing the defendant flash him a smile was "surreal". Imprisoned in Mexico in 1993, he escaped in 2001 hidden in a laundry cart and spent the following years moving from one hideout to another in the mountains of Sinaloa, guarded by a private army. Cogan says it made him "very proud to be an American".