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El Chapo Arrives in U.S. Pleads Not Guilty to 17 Counts

After arriving in the United States last week following his extradition from Mexico, drug lord El Chapo will face charges in Brooklyn, New York for operating a continuing criminal enterprise and other drug-related crimes through his leadership of the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel, according to the Department of Justice.

Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, 59, known by many as “El Chapo,” arrived in the United States on Jan. 19, and entered a not guilty plea through his attorney at an arraignment Friday in federal court in Brooklyn.

“Guzman Loera is the alleged leader of a multi-billion dollar, multi-national criminal enterprise that funneled drugs onto our streets and violence and misery into our communities,” said Acting Attorney General Yates. “We are deeply grateful to the Government of Mexico for their assistance in securing Guzman Loera’s extradition. The Mexican people have suffered greatly at the hands of Guzman Loera and the Sinaloa Cartel; Mexican law enforcement officials have died in the pursuit of him. We will honor their sacrifice and will honor Mexico’s commitment to combat narco-trafficking by pursuing justice in this case.”

According to DOJ, Guzman’s charges include:

Guzman Loera and Ismael Zambada Garcia, as leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, conspired to import more than 200 metric tons of cocaine into the United States. The Sinaloa Cartel shared drug transportation routes and obtained drugs from various Colombian drug trafficking organizations, in particular, the Colombian Norte del Valle Cartel, the Don Lucho Organization, and the Cifuentes-Villa Organization. The cocaine was transported from Colombia via planes, boats, and submarines into ports the enterprise controlled in Southern Mexico and other locations throughout Central America. From there, it was shipped through Mexico to distribution hubs in the United States.

As one of the principal leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman Loera allegedly also oversaw the cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana smuggling activities by the Sinaloa Cartel to wholesale distributors in Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, New York, as well as in various locations in Arizona, Los Angeles and elsewhere. The billions of dollars generated from drug sales in the United States were then clandestinely transported back to Mexico.

To evade law enforcement and protect the enterprise’s narcotics distribution activities, Guzman Loera and the Sinaloa Cartel allegedly employed various means including the use of “sicarios,” or hit men, who carried out hundreds of acts of violence in Mexico, including murder, to collect drug debts, silence potential witnesses, and prevent public officials from taking action against the cartel. To intimidate and eliminate his rivals, during the Sinaloa Cartel’s internecine war for territory with the Juarez Cartel from approximately 2007 through 2011, Guzman Loera directed these assassins to kill thousands of drug trafficking competitors, during which many of his victims were beheaded.

“One of the most dangerous and feared drug kingpins will now be held accountable for his alleged crimes in the United States after decades of eluding law enforcement,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney. “After years of gathering evidence in multiple investigations, the FBI and our law enforcement partners will do everything we can to bring El Chapo to justice.”

Guzman faces a sentence of mandatory life imprisonment, if convicted of the continuing criminal enterprise charge, and a maximum sentence of life on the remaining charges.

 

Image: Pixabay

Posted in The Takedown

Tags: drug trafficking, Department of Justice, extradition, drug cartels

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