70° Good Morning
70° Good Morning

No verdict yet in 'El Chapo' drug smuggling trial

Jury deliberations will resume Tuesday in the federal court trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera.

Alleged Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman

Alleged Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera is taken into custody on February 22, 2014. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images/RONALDO SCHEMIDT

Jurors in the Brooklyn federal court trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera completed their first day of deliberations on Monday without a verdict after the judge questioned them about exposure to possible prejudicial publicity in the wake of weekend stories reporting that Guzman allegedly had sex with minors.

After a 2-1/2 month trial the panel finally got the case at 1 p.m., and deliberated until 4:15 p.m. They sent out four notes, asking for evidence, asking technical legal questions about the charges, and finally asking to go home.

Earlier Monday, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan sealed a conference with lawyers and a subsequent meeting with the jurors, saying in open court only that the subject was their exposure to “sensitive material.”

Afterwards, he said he was convinced they had followed his directions to stay away from publicity, and only two acknowledged that they had seen a “quick glance at something.” He then questioned those two with defense lawyers and prosecutors present, and no jurors were removed.

Guzman, 61, an alleged leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, is accused of smuggling an estimated $14 billion in cocaine into the U.S. Over the weekend, newly unsealed court filings revealed an allegation that did not come out at trial – that Guzman procured young girls for $5000 each to have sex.

The allegation came from Alex Cifuentes, a former aide who testified as a government witness. Prosecutors, in a letter to Cogan that had been sealed since last October, said Cifuentes told them that Guzman had sex with girls as young as 13 after drugging them with a powdery substance.

Cifuentes, who admitted having sex himself with some of the procured children as young as 15, also said Guzman referred to the girls as his “vitamins” because he thought intercourse with them kept him young.

Although the allegations made headlines on the internet, on TV, and in newspapers throughout the past weekend, Cogan said he “could not be more confident” that jurors had followed his directions to not stories read about the case.

Guzman was extradited to the U.S. in 2017. The trial began Nov. 13 and prosecutors called 56 witnesses, including 14 informants, to testify about his alleged role in multiple drug deals, corruption of Mexican police and military and political officials, and murders of both rivals and suspected traitors.

After the jury went out to begin deliberations on Monday, Acting Attorney Gen. Matthew Whitaker visited the prosecution team in the courtroom to congratulate them for their work on the case. Deliberations are scheduled to resume on Tuesday morning.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

News photos & videos