Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez made it official Tuesday in federal court was after a false start on a guilty plea a few weeks ago.
Authorities say years ago El Chapo Guzman hand-picked his oldest, closest friend Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez, to oversee daily operations of the Sinaloa drug cartel. According to top U.S. drug agents, El Chapo even named one of his sons Alfredo after his boyhood friend. On Tuesday, that friend pleaded guilty to his role in El Chapo's $1 billion trafficking conspiracy. It's a plea agreement that promises nothing else, no cooperation and no testimony. It is the exact same guilty plea his lawyers floated in March, but didn't file.
Drug kingpin Joaquin El Chapo Guzman and Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez were among a dozen Sinaloa operatives believed responsible for providing 80 percent of Chicago's illicit drugs. A Treasury Department "kingpin chart" shows Vasquez-Hernandez, right in line under the boss, El Chapo.
On Tuesday, it was a major admission as the 58-year-old admitted guilt in El Chapo's cocaine and heroin conspiracy, but emphasized he would not cooperate or testify.
It's the same deal he offered in March then withdrew after his attorneys claimed an I-Team report sparked rumors in Mexico and threatened his family's safety.
The I-Team reported that by pleading guilty, Hernandez was turning against El Chapo, but we never reported he was cooperating.
"We know that it was on one of the television stations that he cooperated and that caused some turmoil," said Arturo Hernandez, drug trafficker's attorney.
Goudie: "Nobody reported on a television station that he cooperated, you know that don't you?"
"Mr. Goudie you know that you said on television that he turned against Chapo and the implication is that he was cooperating with that statement otherwise you wouldn't have said. Why would you have said that he turned against Chapo, it's absolutely false," said Paul Brayman, drug trafficker's attorney.
Goudie: "Well there was no report that he was cooperating, is that correct?"
Brayman: "That, that's, well there was an implication that you say he turned against El Chapo, how else do you read that?"
Vasquez-Hernandez lawyers said Tuesday they never spoke with anyone in Mexico but wouldn't answer questions about that.
Court records reveal the U.S. has evidence "Vasquez Hernandez identified himself as a lifelong friend of Chapo Guzman" . . . "stated he oversaw the transportation of cocaine for Guzman". . . and that "his wife, individual M, handled cartel logistics", but on Tuesday, his lawyers said he doesn't even know El Chapo.
Goudie: "The government claims he was a boyhood friend of El Chapo."
Hernandez: "Thats all we have to say, thank you."
Goudie: "Is he not a boyhood friend of El Chapo's?"
Brayman: "We have nothing more to say. See you around."
Vasquez-Hernandez faces 10 years to life in prison and the government is asking for at least a 40-year sentence. Chief Judge Ruben Castillo will decide.