NEW YORK — A jury at the U.S. trial of the infamous Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo has ended its second day of deliberations without a verdict.
The jury of seven women and five men asked for a mountain of read back testimony Tuesday afternoon, including the statements of two, Colombian cocaine suppliers—brothers—who spent four days on the stand.
Alexander Cifuentes Villa and his brother, Jorge, turned U.S. government witnesses and said that 61-year-old El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel controlled 35 percent of the cocaine that was pumped out of Colombia.
Alexander Cifuentes Villa made the stunning claim that Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera paid a $100 million bribe in 2012 to the then-President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto, so the drug billionaire could come out of hiding. Pena Nieto has denied the accusation. When El Chapo was captured by Mexican marines in 2016, after a second prison escape, Pena Nieto had tweeted “Mission Accomplished.”
The defense has claimed the government relied on witnesses who lied and cheated to save their own skins. Many have criminal backgrounds.
The jury late Tuesday said it wanted to hear read back testimony from another star witness, Jesus Reynaldo Zambada, who is the brother of an alleged business leader in the Sinaloa cartel, known as El Mayo. El Mayo is on the lam, and El Chapo’s defense is suggesting he conspired with corrupt Mexican police and government officials to pin the drug crimes on El Chapo.
At one point Tuesday, there was a false alarm.
A reporter misread an email and yelled, “Verdict.”
Journalists in a 6th floor media room went scrambling for the elevators to reach the 8th floor courtroom. But the jury had not even sent its first note yet.
The jury heard from 14 cooperators who described El Chapo's willingness to use violence against the Sinaloa cartel's enemies. The defense has accused the cooperators of making him a scapegoat.
El Chapo has been in solitary confinement since being brought to the U.S. in 2017. He could get life in prison if convicted.
Deliberations are to resume Wednesday morning.