The federal trial of El Chapo was a huge deal because Joaquin Guzman is believed to be the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, the biggest and most powerful cartel in the world. The Mexican cartel is believed to have wealth of $14 billion from drug sales and they have been accused of killing hundreds if not thousands to keep their lucrative narcotics business flowing. So when it came to convicting the drug kingpin, who routinely has his enemies assassinated, there was plenty of pressures on the jurors. One of the jurors in Guzman’s trial stepped forward to reveal what it was like to help bring down one of the most powerful and violent men in the entire world.
An anonymous person claiming to be a juror in the court case of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman provided Vice News with an inside look at what the jurors were dealing with in the high-profile trial. The unidentified juror served in the nearly three-month trial of El Chapo at Brooklyn Federal Court.
But some of the jurors did not abide by the rules set by District Judge Brian Cogan. The judge explicitly and repeatedly instructed the 12 jurors to avoid media reports and personal discussions about the critical case. The anonymous source says many of the jurors defied the judge and regularly sought out reports on the trial.
According to the informant, at least five jurors were regularly checking for news about El Chapo’s trial. “You know how we were told we can’t look at the media during the trial? Well, we did,” the juror told a Vice reporter. “We would constantly go to your media, your Twitter … I personally and some other jurors that I knew.”
Even Guzman’s defense team picked up on this and during the trial, they said they were “deeply concerned” that the jury may have ignored the judge’s warnings. This is significant because the defense could use this information to demand a new trial on the grounds that the jurors were compromised.
On February 12th, El Chapo was found guilty on all of the 10 charges, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, money laundering, and multiple counts of distributing large amounts of narcotics internationally. The anonymous juror insisted that the media reports had zero impact on the final verdict. “That didn’t change nobody’s mind for sure,” the juror said.
In the end, the jurors took six days of deliberations to give their ruling in the federal court case. “We were all pretty sad, in a way,” the juror said of the case ending. “Before I even entered the room to read the verdict, I was about to have a panic attack. I was really nervous. I was shaking.” Completely understandable seeing how El Chapo even had his own cousin murdered for calling out of work one day.
Fearing that their names could become public one day and possibly the Sinaloa Cartel would seek them out to get retribution, the jurors did not call each other by their actual names. Instead, they made up nicknames such as Crash, Pookie, Doc, Mountain Dew, Hennessy, Starbucks, Aruba, TJ, 666, FeFe, and Loco. The jurors understood that their ruling would put El Chapo in prison for the rest of his life.