A naked escape and a ‘murder room’: 13 wild revelations from the ‘El Chapo’ trial
The 11-week trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman — alleged to be the world’s most famous drug lord — is wrapping up Monday, after a jury heard from more than 50 witnesses who described cases of drug smuggling, rape, torture and killings.
Guzman, 61, is most notorious for escaping prison twice in Mexico. He was extradited to the United States in January 2017.
Prosecutors accuse him of leading the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world, and of being responsible for importing nearly 200 tons of cocaine and large of amounts of heroin into the U.S. and Canada.
WATCH: Jury to decide fate of “El Chapo” after marathon trial full of bombshells
The infamous gangster’s personal life and business dealings have gone on public display since the trial started. He faces 17 criminal charges and life in prison.
In case you missed the trial, here are 13 startling reports to come from it.
Accused of raping girls as young as 13
In documents unsealed last week, court papers revealed disturbing allegations not heard by the jury — that Guzman raped girls as young as 13 years old. Guzman reportedly called the girls his “vitamins,” according to the New York Times.
WATCH: El Chapo’s wife departs court as jury deliberates on his fate as lawyers say they’re satisfied jury’s ‘still out’
A Colombian drug trafficker told investigators the kingpin paid $5,000 to have the girls brought to him, and that he sometimes drugged them, the papers said.
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Guzman “denies the allegations, which lack any corroboration and were deemed too prejudicial and unreliable to be admitted at trial,” attorney Eduardo Balarezo said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that the material was publicly released just prior to the jury beginning deliberations.”
Bribing former Mexican president
A witness at the trial said Guzman once paid $100 million to former president Enrique Pena Nieto.
Pena Nieto was president of Mexico from December 2012 until November 2018. He has denied taking any bribes.
Text messages with wife
Text messages between Guzman and his wife, Emma Coronel, often turned to family matters, the trial showed.
“Our Kiki is fearless,” Guzman wrote in one, referring to one of their daughters. “I’m going to give her an AK-47 so she can hang with me.”
After Coronel said she saw a suspicious car, Guzman wrote to her, “You go ahead and lead a normal life. That’s it.” Later he reminds her, “Make sure you delete everything after we’re done chatting.”
WATCH: El Chapo’s wife arrives for husband’s trial
Killing someone for not shaking his hand
After a rival cartel member declined to shake Guzman’s hand, he ordered the man killed, fueling a war between the cartels, a witness told the jury.
Rodolfo Fuentes had met Guzman to make peace in a cartel and gang war, the witness told the court.
“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,” he said.
Fuentes and his wife were shot and killed outside a cinema soon afterwards.
Burying enemies alive
One of Guzman’s former bodyguards, Isaias Valdez Rios, said he watched his boss personally kill three rival cartel members. Guzman shot one of them and ordered his underlings to bury the man while he was gasping for air.
He told the jury that Guzman also tortured two men for hours before shooting them each in the head and ordering their bodies tossed into a flaming pit.
Secret tunnel under a bathtub
Guzman escaped into a tunnel hidden beneath a bathtub when U.S. agents raided one of his homes in 2014, his former mistress, Lucero Sanchez Lopez told the jury.
She said when Mexican army officials burst into this home, Guzman took off running, completely naked.
Lopex said she followed Guzman into the passage, feeling water trickle down her legs. “It was very dark and I was very scared,” she said.
Escaping a maximum security prison
The secrets of the drug lord’s escape from a Mexican maximum security prison in 2015 were revealed by a former cartel associate.
Damaso Lopez told jurors that, while Guzman was held in Mexico’s Altiplano prison in 2014 and 2015, he plotted his boss’ escape with Coronel and Guzman’s sons and wife.
Lopez said the sons bought a plot of land near the prison from which to tunnel into Guzman’s cell. Guzman escaped, riding a small motorcycle through the finished 1.6-kilometre tunnel in 2015.
WATCH: Security video shows moment ‘El Chapo’ disappears
Interest in directing a movie
Guzman was interested in directing a movie about his “rags-to-riches” life story as early as 2007.
Guzman’s self-described “right-hand man,” Alex Cifuentes, told the jury said he learned about a planned movie project while living with Guzman in the mountains of his boss’ home state of Sinaloa from 2007 to 2009.
Guzman’s Hollywood dreams first surfaced when Sean Penn wrote a story for Rolling Stone magazine in 2016 about travelling to meet Guzman at a forest hideout.
Drug lords use plastic surgery
A former Colombian drug lord known for an extreme plastic-surgery makeover came forward at the trial about his drug-trafficking business with Guzman.
Asked about his distorted facial features, Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia explained he had undergone at least three surgeries meant to hide his identity that altered his “jawbone, my cheekbones, my eyes, my mouth, my ears, my nose.”
Ramirez Abadia described a meeting at a hotel in Mexico in the early 1990s where he struck a deal with Guzman to smuggle cocaine into Los Angeles and New York City.
The U.S. government was listening
The United States government used Guzman’s own spy technology against him. One his tech experts, Christian Rodriguez, who helped him develop high-tech spying software, later cooperated with U.S. authorities after being approached by the FBI during a raid.
U.S. officials used those wiretap systems to spy on Guzman and collected over one million text messages between cartel members.
Hitman’s murder room
A witness told the jury that one of Guzman’s hitman had a “murder room” in his mansion, which featured a drain on the floor to more easily clean up after grisly executions.
The witness said the hitman’s room had white tiles and it was sound-proofed “so no noise comes out.”
“In that house, no-one comes out,” he told jurors.
Shot bazookas to relax
A witness told the court that Guzman once used a bazooka for target practice to relax. The witness said Guzman took the anti-tank rocket launcher with him on a trip with relatives in 2005.
WATCH: New video shows moments during ‘El Chapo’ siege
He had a private zoo
Guzman was so rich he had a private zoo with lions, tigers, panthers and crocodiles, a witness told the court.
The witness also said ‘El Chapo’ had three private jets, a $10-million beach house named after himself, as well as a “little train” used to cruise around to see the zoo animals.
— With files from Reuters and the Associated Press
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