Notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been found guilty of all drug-trafficking charges leveled against him at a trial in New York.
The verdict reached on the sixth day of jury deliberations is expected to put the 61-year-old behind bars for the rest of his life in a high-security US prison selected to thwart another one of the escapes that embarrassed his native country. He’s due to be sentenced June 25.
Guzman reaped an estimated US$14 billion ($20 billion) as the longtime head of the murderous Sinaloa drug cartel,
The powerful trafficker broke out of Mexican prisons twice before he was finally recaptured and extradited to the US in 2017.
Jurors kept their eyes down and avoided looking at Guzman as the verdict was read.
After Judge Brian Cogan read the verdict, he told them that the way they conducted themselves as jurors “made me very proud to be an American”.
Guzman later waved and smiled at his wife, former beauty queen Emma Coronel, who smiled back and touched her hand to her heart.
“Good, thank you,” she said when asked how she felt after the verdict.
US prosecutor Richard Donoghue described the conviction as a victory in the war on drugs.
“This conviction is a victory for the American people who have suffered so long and so much while Guzman made billions pouring poison over our southern border,” Mr Donoghue said outside the court.
“This conviction is a victory for the Mexican people who have lost more than 100,000 lives in drug-related violence,” he added.
Federal prosecutors put on more than 50 witnesses over three months detailing how Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel amassed billions of dollars importing tons of cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana into the US.
Witnesses detailed assassinations and political payoffs, and how drugs were smuggled using tanker trucks, railway carriages and even shipments of canned peppers.
Guzman’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, said his client planned to appeal the conviction on a number of issues.
Mr Lichtman said Guzman was in good spirits, despite the verdict.
“He’s a very upbeat guy. He was bringing our spirits up, which was surprising,” he said.