El Chapo trial: An epic narco drama unfolds in a New York courtroom


On the stand, a pudgy, little one-faced personal computer geek from Colombia would shortly describe an East German Stasi-like program to infiltrate each and every one web cafe in the funds of Guzman’s house condition in Mexico.

At minimum a person of the 18 jurors and alternates, although, nodded off now and then.

Emma Coronel, Guzman’s wife, sat in the second row on the protection aspect of the extensive courtroom. She checked her shiny black hair for break up finishes and often smiled at her spouse as the witness recounted stunning lapses that sooner or later led to the drug boss’ downfall.

Emma Coronel, wife of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, arrives in August for a pre-trial hearing in New York.

On the stand Thursday was an information engineering specialist named Christian Rodriguez, a cooperating witness dressed in a metallic grey suit and dim tie. The 32-calendar year-previous higher education dropout from Colombia ran a cybersecurity startup that catered to drug cartels searching for extra protected communications.

Over two days, Rodriguez prevented eye make contact with with Guzman, who wore a blue go well with Thursday and sat at the end of the defense desk. Rodriguez testified that he was barely 21 when he took an IT aspiration task that wound up foremost to a number of nervous breakdowns and a spot in witness security.

On the other facet of the packed courtroom sat two couples who’d arrived in the predawn hrs to witness the long-awaited demo of the person alleged to be the world’s major drug trafficker. They endured many stability checkpoints. In advance of 7 a.m., they stood on a lengthy queue outdoors the heavy-guarded courtroom for a chance at restricted seating.

“We got the final two seats,” said a smiling Rosa Alvarez, 50, who dragged her spouse to court docket from New Jersey on his day off from a chemical plant.

“El Chapo is interesting. This is a telenovela,” she claimed, evoking the schmaltzy dramas that dominate Spanish-language prime-time Television.

‘We’ll inform our grandchildren about this’

For approximately two months, the rise and slide of the in the vicinity of mythical Mexican drug lord who rose from humble origins to allegedly pocket virtually $14 billion as head of the deadly Sinaloa cartel has been on display, Monday by way of Thursday, in the eighth-ground courtroom of US District Judge Brian Cogan.

“This is a when-in-a-life time demo,” Alvarez stated.

“We are going to tell our grandchildren about this someday,” reported her spouse Raul, who is 51.

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is pictured with an associate, left, known as "Cholo Ivan."

On the stand, Rodriguez recounted how FBI agents confronted him in 2011 and persuaded him to flip on his greatest customer. He handed about electronic keys and other facts that unveiled the kingpin’s most personal secrets. It was a betrayal pretty much biblical in scale.

“They reported they realized I worked for El Chapo and I was in really serious issues,” Rodriguez claimed of the agents.

Rodriguez explained Guzman as a person with an insatiable hunger for digital spying.

A glitch in the plan to hack each world wide web cafe in the northwestern Mexican town of Culiacan led to a 2009 assembly in between Rodriguez and cartel users at just one of Guzman’s mountain hideaways in Sinaloa state, according to the techie’s testimony.

Protected by much more than a dozen heavily-armed guards, which include 1 with “a incredibly big weapon” capable of downing a helicopter, the clandestine conference was cut short by studies of an advancing convoy of Mexican troops.

Inside El Chapo's secret cartel communications system

Rodriguez recounted how the up coming a few days had been used climbing through the mountains with Guzman and his entourage. They crashed in compact houses right before creating their way back again to Culiacan.

“How ended up you experience?” federal prosecutor Andrea Goldbarg questioned Rodriguez.

“I was quite frightened,” he mentioned.

What about Guzman?

“He was generally very serene, very sure, extremely tranquil,” Rodriguez answered Goldbarg.

Rodriguez mentioned he promptly returned to Colombia and never ever satisfied with Guzman once again. He sought to “set distance” concerning himself and Guzman before turning on the cartel boss, he mentioned.

Right after opening Guzman’s encrypted phones and spy ware to the FBI, Rodriguez fled to the United States, he testified. He’d listened to that associates of Guzman realized of his cooperation. He reported he endured a breakdown and required electroshock treatment to treat his strain and trauma.

Rodriguez, who told the jury he is on medication and likely to remedy, averted looking about at Guzman on Thursday when his testimony finished. Numerous federal brokers in plainclothes trailed him out of the courtroom.

Rosa and Raul Alvarez stayed until finally the conclusion of the working day. They practically rubbed elbows with Guzman’s wife as they remaining court.

The couple vowed to arrive back again.

“It is like a narco motion picture,” Rosa Alvarez said, “in genuine lifetime.”



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