The judgment of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán starts this Monday in a federal court of New York, facing two different visions of a man who is considered by the prosecution as one of the criminals most dangerous in modern history.
Guzmán Loera, 61, is instead presented by his defense as a man whose danger has been increased by the media, which did not lead to a criminal organization and whose accusation is based on testimonies of subjects with incentives to please the prosecution.
With 11 charges against him, adjusted after the 17 charges he will face after his extradition of Mexico in January 2017, Guzmán Loera He has pleaded not guilty. In his last capture in Mexico he affirmed that he is just a farmer.
The defense of "El Chapo", composed of lawyers who represented the head of the criminal family Gambino, John Gotti Jr, and at drug dealer convicted Alfredo Beltrán LeyvaThey have not expressed a total innocence of their client, but they have tried to minimize the evidence against them.
The prosecution maintains that Guzmán Loera imported and distributed in U.S thousands of tons of cocaine and others drug, and to support the position that he directed the criminal organization of Sinaloa Cartel He assures that he ordered the execution of "thousands" of his rivals.
Specifically, the prosecution has attributed 33 murders to "El Chapo", in order to support the most important charge facing the accused, which refers to operating a "continuous criminal enterprise" The penalty for that charge is mandatory prison for life.
The lawyers Eduardo Balarezo Y Jeffrey Lichtman, supported by William Purpura, have argued based on evidence presented by the prosecution itself that Guzmán Loera he was not the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, so he never had the power to order executions.
In a letter sent last June to the judge in the case, Brian Cogan, Balarezo argued that information from the prosecution itself would mitigate the role of Joaquín Guzmán in the alleged conspiracies, it contradicts the allegations of the so-called "Federation" (of cartels) or "completely exonerates Guzmán".
Thus, the strategy of the defense could be similar to the one used Lichtman to avoid being sentenced to prison Gotti Jr, who according to prosecutors inherited his father's illegal business emporium.
In the decade of the year 2000, Lichtman he managed that Gotti Jr was acquitted of a charge of extortion while four trials for illicit enrichment were declared invalid after the jury failed to agree on the verdict. The government desisted in 2005 to prosecute again Gotti Jr.
The defense could look not so much that Guzmán Loera was declared innocent, but only that the evidence was not strong enough to unanimously convince all the members of the jury of their guilt.
In that sense, the defense tried without success that the accusation did not link Joaquín Guzmán with murders. Finally, none of the charges he faces Guzmán Loera in the eastern district court of New York it is related to crimes of violence; They refer to drug traffic, money laundering Y weapon possession.
The defense got the Judge Cogan order the prosecution to reduce the number of murders that it charges to Guzmán Loera in order to expedite the trial. The prosecution would try to offer evidence about only a dozen murders.
Also, in his initial appearance as his lawyer last September, Lichtman told the press that Guzmán Loera at this point "he has become a mythical figure", but that in books written even by exagents ascribed to his case they acknowledge not knowing with certainty "what is real and what is not".
He said that all the witnesses who cooperate in the case "have an incentive to lie because everyone gets something from this. They do not do it because of the kindness of their heart, or because they want to free the world from illegal drugs. They do it because they want something: money or freedom. "
The defense has also managed to insert into the public opinion the notion that "El Chapo" It faces a judicial machinery that has not been impartial. Lawyers have pointed out that the defendant is being held in "one of the worst and most restrictive conditions" in U.S.
Indicate that such conditions have caused "a marked deterioration in your mental state." They have also complained that the number of documents is too high for them to review it in time so their proper defense would be "impossible".
The strategy envisaged until now aims to characterize Guzmán Loera as a kind of scapegoat that confronts the powerful machinery of the justice system of U.S in very unequal conditions.
The selection of juries begins on Monday, while the trial itself will start on Tuesday, November 13. To the dozen members of the jury, selected from a thousand residents of New YorkIt will be those who will have to appeal to prosecutors and lawyers.
The work of the defense will be fraught with challenges. In the end, they defend a man on whom the prosecution has accumulated evidence for almost three decades, supported by testimony from at least 40 witnesses, who will describe the "wars" that hundreds of hired assassins undertook under the orders of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.