The ongoing trial against Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo, is more riveting every day. But the latest bombshell seems to reveal the most damning evidence against him so far.
According to the New York Times and Vice, the FBI successfully hacked into Chapo’s communication network between the kingpin and the people working under him. This information, obtained through a Colombian info-tech expert, exposed huge drug deals, payments to government officials, and more that Guzmán orchestrated through texts or recorded phone calls.
The FBI accessed the communications through Cristian Rodriguez, the man who developed Guzmán’s encrypted network and made it impossible for the government to listen in. Law enforcement has thousands of recordings as evidence against the captured cartel lord, which was first revealed in court on Tuesday.
According to the Times, agent Stephen Marston, who helped to run the operation, was a witness at Guzmán’s trial. In addition to sharing evidence, Marston explained to jurors how they recruited Rodriguez to work with the FBI, a relationship that began in 2011.
The calls, which you can read more about here, are alarming. But since those original stories were published, other updates about Guzmán’s private communications have boiled to the surface. Most pressing are Chapo’s private texts with his wife, Emma Coronel, exposing her deep involvement with the cartel and participation in drug crimes.
"One moment, the couple is cooing over how cute their twin daughters are and talking about Emma's enchiladas, the next they're talking about whether Chapo's soldiers were slaughtered in a gunfight," reporter Alan Feuer tweeted in a long thread about the new discovery.
"The FBI, in league with Chapo's IT guy, used his own lust and sexual paranoia against him in order to collect the most private communications one could imagine," Feuer tweets. "Emma, the wife, was so knee deep in Chapo's business that she would often hand her phone to her father, who was one of Chapo's lieutenants. Chapo and the father used Emma's phones to plan major-league drug deals. Un. Be. Lievable."
After being extradited to the United States, Guzmán pled not guilty to 17 counts, including the operation of a criminal enterprise, money laundering, and murder conspiracy. He will not face the death penalty, even if convicted on all 17 counts, but he might spend the rest of his life in a Colorado prison known as "Supermax," without the possibility of parole.