By Myles Miller Brooklyn | NY1.com |
El Chapo means the short one. But there’s nothing small about alleged drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman. Not his multiple prison breaks, his gold-plated guns, or the way he allegedly transports his drugs by air and sea.
Federal prosecutors say for decades, Guzman supplied 80 percent of New York’s heroin and cocaine.
“Chapo Guzman is directly related for thousands of deaths in the United States by sending his poison in here,” said James Hunt, former special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s New York Division. “It’s a good chance it started with Chapo’s organization.”
Hunt would know. For the past four years, he was tasked with getting El Chapo to the U.S. to face charges. He was there the moment El Chapo touched down at MacArthur Airport on Long Island last January.
“He was very respectful but stunned me,” Hunt said. “The look on his face that he was stunned to be in the United States.”
Hunt says the trial will center on drugs seized right here in New York.
“There’s a number of seizures that took place around the world that were initiated off of DEA New York investigations that are gonna be linked back to Chapo,” he said.
Those seizures are spelled out in a detention memo, where prosecutors lay out the case against El Chapo in exhaustive detail. Like pictures that show what authorities say is nearly 2,000 kilos of cocaine seized from a warehouse in Queens and more than 1,900 kilos of cocaine seized from a car and warehouse in Brooklyn. Those seizures, they say, have been traced back to El Chapo’s cartel.
Testifying against El Chapo, will be some of El Chapo’s most trusted operatives, now testifying for the government, like twin drug smugglers Pedro and Margarito Flores from Chicago. They were allegedly his link to the U.S. market and recorded conversations with Guzman as part of a plea deal.
“There’s going to be witness testimony that it was Chapo’s organization and Chapo himself was directing a lot of these seizures,” Hunt said.
Witnesses’ names have been shielded on court documents. Those testifying will be under around-the-clock protection as they speak out against the alleged drug lord.
The jurors, five men and seven women, will remain anonymous and will be driven by marshals to and from the trial each day.
El Chapo himself is brought to court in the dead of night in a massive caravan of police vehicles across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Courthouse security is tight. There are hourly sweeps by bomb detection dogs, and heavily armed officers stand guard outside court.