Home Latin America Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s trial: Six startling claims

Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s trial: Six startling claims


The trial of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán hasn't been short on details of the alleged drug cartel kingpin's colourful lifestyle.

Much of the evidence has come from the prosecution's star witness, Jesús Zambada.

Mr Guzmán's defence lawyers say Mr Zambada's elder brother is the real leader of the Sinaloa cartel.

Here are some of the most interesting insights from the court so far:

Blinged-out weaponry

El Chapo's reputed extravagance extended even to his extensive collection of weaponry, the trial has heard.

Among his prized possessions were a diamond-encrusted, monogrammed pistol and a gold-plated AK-47.

Fatal handshake snub

Mr Zambada testified that the alleged drug kingpin had the brother of another cartel leader killed because he did not shake Mr Guzmán's hand.

Rodolfo Fuentes had met Mr Guzmán to make peace in a cartel and gang war, the court heard.

"When [Rodolfo] left, Chapo gave him his hand and said, 'See you later, friend,' and Rodolfo just left him standing there with his hand extended," Mr Zambada said.

Mr Fuentes and his wife were shot and killed outside a cinema soon afterwards.

328 million lines of coke

Assistant US Attorney Adam Fels said in his opening argument that El Chapo had sent "more than a line of cocaine for every single person in the United States" – in just four of his shipments.

That amounts to over 328 million lines of cocaine, said the prosecutor.

Mr Zambada said that once, in 1994, Mr Guzmán gave the order to sink a boat carrying 20 tonnes of cocaine to evade authorities.

Bazooka target practice

The court also heard that Mr Guzmán once used a bazooka for target practice – to relax on a family holiday.

Mr Zambada said El Chapo took the anti-tank rocket launcher with him on a trip with relatives in 2005.

He decided to "test out" the weapon after the group had finished target practice with assault rifles, according to the witness.

A $50m bribe fund

Some of the biggest news from testimony was how the Sinaloa cartel allegedly paid off a host of top Mexican officials to ensure their drug business ran smoothly.

Mr Zambada said the traffickers had $50m (£39m) in protection money for former Mexican Secretary of Public Security García Luna, so that corrupt officers would be appointed to head police operations.

Mr Zambada said he gave the money to Mr Luna in briefcases full of cash. Mr Luna has denied the allegations.

When former Mexico City Mayor Gabriel Regino was in line to become the next secretary of security, Mr Zambada says the cartel bribed him, too.

Mr Regino, who is now a professor, has also denied the claims.

'Narco-saint' at court

A 6in (15cm) figurine of a folk hero dubbed the narco-saint has been spotted on a shelf in a conference room used by the defendant's lawyers at the court, the New York Post reported.

The statue of Jesús Malverde, which has him seated on a purple throne with bags of cash, appeared on Wednesday, one of El Chapo's lawyers told the newspaper.

Jesús Malverde has been celebrated as a Robin Hood-type hero who, legend says, stole from the rich and gave to the poor in the early 1900s.

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