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El Chapo’s Conviction: Timeline and Details

The United States District Courthouse, for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has met his fate. On Tuesday, the famous Sinaloan drug lord was convicted guilty on all charges which account for the numerous federal crimes he has committed through running one of the world’s most notorious drug cartels. El Chapo’s illegal activities have plagued Mexico over the past two decades by corrupting the Mexican government and executing unimaginable violence against all individuals of potential threat to his lucrative business. Over 100,000 people have died in relation to the drug war that continues to plague the Mexican community.


Let’s take a look back at the drug kingpin’s history with law enforcement:

El Chapo narrowly escapes assassination. Shortly after, he is arrested by the Mexican government and sentenced to 20 years in jail. While in jail, he bribes guards and continues to run the cartel through prison.

El Chapo makes his first escape from Puente Grande via a hidden laundry basket. After his escape, he returns to operate his cartel for another 13 years.

The drug lord gets captured for the second time in Mazatlan while hiding in underground tunnels. By then he was known by law enforcement officials as one of the most powerful drug lords in the world.

El Chapo successfully escapes from one of Mexico’s top prisons for the second time, this time through an underground tunnel created right under his shower in his prison cell.

Mexican officials re-capture El Chapo in an intense shootout in Los Mochis, Mexico.

El Chapo is extradited to Brooklyn, New York.

November 13, 2018
Court cases for El Chapo’s trial begin in Brooklyn. For security purposes, the Brooklyn Bridge was completely shutdown in order for his motorcade to pass.

December 6, 2018
Prosecutors begin bringing in strings of witnesses who describe the acts of violence carried out by El Chapo. Judge Brian Cohan treads carefully and moderates some of the testimonies on the level of corruption in the drug industry.

January 16, 2019
Witness Alex Cifuentes, a top drug trafficker who lived with El Chapo for a period of time, claims in court that El Chapo paid off former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto. El Chapo offered Nieto $100 million in exchange for protection from government services. Former spokesmen for the president claim this allegation is false. This is significant evidence against the drug lord. 

January 30, 2019
After weeks of testimonies from 56 witnesses on the prosecution side, El Chapo’s lawyers present a short, 30-minute defense, calling in only one witness.

February 12, 2019
El Chapo is convicted guilty of all charges and faces life prison.

Where will El Chapo go after court?

We are not sure yet since his sentencing isn’t until June 25. But one thing is for certain: he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. As of now, he’s likely locked up in the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Why is this court case so important?

As one of the most dangerous drug criminals, El Chapo has made over $14 billion smuggling cocaine across the U.S./Mexico border via airplanes, tunnels, trains, and other incredibly creative means of transportation. The conviction is a huge victory for American law enforcement officials who are fighting against the war on drugs.

Though El Chapo’s trial is officially over, drug cartel activity has not stopped. According to The New York Timesheroin production has increased by 37 percent over the past two years – the same time when the drug lord was extradited to the U.S.

In the same article, acting D.E.A. administrator Uttam Dhillon states, “It is our hope that this verdict will show the entire world no matter who you are or where you are located or how powerful you become, the Drug Enforcement Administration will never stop and you will answer for your crimes. The D.E.A. will continue to pursue justice worldwide and protect all Americans from this scourge of illegal drugs.”



Vivian Wang

Vivian is a travel enthusiast and food connoisseur living in New York City. Her curiosity and passion for languages and culture has taken her across eight countries over the past year. When not working, you can find her meandering in art museums or sampling food at the street markets.

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