El Chapo lawyers say USA using 'sandbag' tactics in records dump

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Attorneys for infamous drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman are asking a judge to delay the start of his trial in early September, alleging that federal prosecutors are purposely trying to drown them in documents.

"Trial is less than two months away and the government continues to sandbag the defense by producing thousands of recordings and documents," state El Chapo's attorneys in a new court filing. "The government's last-minute production of massive quantities of discovery obliterates any semblance of due process and Mr. Guzman's ability to have a fair trial."

Even though it is long past the court deadline for turning over records, known as the "discovery" process, El Chapo's lawyers say they expect 10,000 pages of new documents from the government in coming weeks-on top of last week's "117,000 sound files, 1,125 pages of documents; dozens of pictures and at least one video recording."

That would bring the grand total of discovery records provided to the defense at about 450,000-not including 1,000 prospective juror questionnaires that the kingpin's legal team must also review.

Guzman's trial on charges of drug trafficking, murder conspiracy and money laundering is due to start Sept. 5 in Brooklyn Federal Court. But his lawyers are asking for more time and U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan is expected to decide later this week whether that will happen.

El Chapo attorney Eduardo Balarezo, in his court filing, asked for an expedited ruling on his motion for a delay.

"Although the government seemingly has infinite resources to devote to this case, Mr. Guzman does not," he wrote. "As a result, Mr. Guzman reluctantly requests that the court (delay) the trial ... in order to give the defense sufficient time to review and assess all new discovery."

U.S. prosecutors have accused Guzman, 60, of running a global drug smuggling operation as the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, distributing cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines. Federal agents say his cartel was responsible for 80% of Chicago's street drug sales the past two decades. He is also accused of playing a central role in a decade-long Mexican drug war where more than 100,000 people have died.

Mexican authorities captured Guzman and an associate in January 2016 after Guzman had fled through tunnels and drains from a raid on a safe house in northwest Mexico.

Six months earlier, Guzman had escaped through a tunnel from a high-security Mexican prison. Guzman was extradited to the United States in January 2017-and despite being under indictment in Chicago, the Justice Department decided to first prosecute him in the Eastern District of New York where he faces similar charges.
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