Federal prosecutors wrap case against drug lord El Chapo

The U.S. government's case against notorious drug boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman took two years to build and two months to present.

El Chapo's defense will consist of no more than two witnesses.

Two brief witnesses, according to the drug lord's attorneys.

And El Chapo will not be one of them.

On Monday, the 61-year-old kingpin told U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan that he would not take the witness stand to testify on his own behalf.

After excusing the jury, Judge Cogan asked Guzman directly whether he understood it was his decision and not that of his attorneys whether to testify.
"Yes, but they counseled me about it and I agree with them," Guzman answered.

Judge Cogan, a Chicago native and University of Illinois graduate, has been officiating the trial in a Brooklyn courthouse since opening statements during mid-November.

Federal prosecutors on Monday rested their case against El Chapo-a case that some Justice Department observers thought would have been better off held in Chicago where the Sinaloa cartel leader is also under indictment. For more than a decade Sinaloa had a corner on Chicago's illicit drug market, controlling at least 80% of cocaine and heroin sales, according to U.S. law enforcement officials.

During the New York case, prosecutors called 56 witnesses-including 13 ex-cartel associates who testified about the inner-working of Mexico's richest and most potent drug organization.

One of the insider-witnesses, considered among the most damaging to El Chapo, was Pedro Flores from Chicago's near west side. Pedro and his twin brother Margarito Flores supervised Chapo's U.S. drug domain from their perch in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood.

After the government rested on Monday, El Chapo's attorneys asked Judge Cogan for a directed verdict of acquittal. Cogan denied that request and so after the defense calls two law enforcement witnesses on Tuesday, the case will move to closing arguments on Wednesday.

Also on Monday, in a moment of life-imitates-art, an actor who played the notorious drug lord in a Netflix series made a cameo as a spectator at the kingpin's trial.

Actor Alejandro Edda showed up early Monday at the Brooklyn courthouse to get a seat in the packed courtroom. El Chapo apparently is a fan. He cracked a smile when the "Narcos: Mexico" star was pointed out to him.

Guzman faces a sweeping 17-count indictment charging him with leading a criminal enterprise responsible for importing and distributing vast quantities of meth, heroin, cocaine, and other illegal drugs into the country.

Jeffrey Lichtman, one of Guzman's lawyers, said in his opening statement last November that Chapo was framed by the cartel's true leader, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, with the help of corrupt government officials.

The trial has also featured accusations of corruption against Mexican government officials, the most explosive of which was that former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto took a $100 million bribe from Guzman. A spokesman for Pena Nieto has denied the allegation.
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