El Chapo’s Drug Trafficking Conviction Upheld in U.S. Appeals Court

A central argument of the El Chapo appeal effort focused on the jury itself, arguing that members had been keeping up with news coverage amid the trial.

El Chapo is pictured wearing a jacket

Image via Getty/STR/AFP

El Chapo is pictured wearing a jacket

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s drug trafficking conviction has been upheld by a U.S. appeals court.

In documents from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit viewed by Complex, the drug lord’s 10 claims on appeal are rejected, with the court determining that “none of these claims has merit.”

Back in July 2019, El Chapo was sentenced to life after being convicted in a jury trial of continuing a criminal enterprise and drug trafficking conspiracy, among other things.

“The long road that brought ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Loera to a United States courtroom is lined with drugs, death, and destruction, but ends today with justice,” then-Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said at the time. “Thanks to the unflagging efforts of the Department of Justice and the law enforcement community over the past 25 years, this notorious leader of one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in the Western hemisphere, the Sinaloa Cartel, will spend the rest of his life behind bars.”

The subsequent appeal efforts centered on a 2019 article from Vice News that went live shortly after El Chapo’s verdict was announced. In the article, a juror mentioned that multiple members of the jury had not been forthright about keeping up with news coverage of the widely publicized trial.

“I’m either brave or stupid,” the unidentified juror said in the article in question. “It could go either way.”

Responding to the article-focused claim specifically, the government argued on Tuesday that the District Court had been “keenly aware” of the media coverage surrounding the trial, further stating that U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan told the jury on numerous occasions to “avoid all media coverage about the case.” Cogan, as stated in the latest court docs, at one point spoke with two jurors who had admitted to media exposure but ultimately concluded that they “remained impartial.”

Last November, El Chapo’s wife—Emma Coronel Aispuro—received a conviction of 36 months in prison and four years of supervised release. Charges against Coronel Aispuro, who pleaded guilty earlier that year to three counts, included drug trafficking and money laundering.

As for El Chapo, Complex reached out to his attorney, Marc Fernich, for additional comment on Tuesday’s developments and received the following statement:

“While respecting the Court’s ruling, we’re disappointed that substantial allegations of grave jury misconduct continue to be swept under the rug and left wholly unexamined in a case of historic proportion — all, it appears, because of the defendant’s matchless notoriety.”

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