Violent, colorful drug lord ‘El Chapo’ convicted in U.S. court

admin   •   February 13, 2019   •   2870

Sketch of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in court on February 12, 2019 | Jane Rosenberg sketches via Reuters

The world’s most infamous cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who rose from poverty in rural Mexico to amass billions of dollars, was found guilty in a U.S. court on Tuesday (February 12) of smuggling tons of drugs to the United States over a violent, colorful, decades-long career.

Jurors in federal court in Brooklyn convicted Guzman, 61, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, on all 10 counts brought by U.S. prosecutors.

Richard Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said he expected Guzman to receive life without parole when sentenced on June 25. “It is a sentence from which there is no escape and no return,” Donoghue told reporters.

More than 250,000 homicides have been registered in Mexico since the government launched an aggressive war on cartels in 2006, during which Guzman and his exploits became almost legendary. About 150,000 of those deaths were tied to organized crime.

Guzman staged two dramatic escapes from Mexican high-security prisons and cultivated a Robin Hood image among the poor in his home state of Sinaloa.

Guzman sat and showed no emotion while the verdict was read. Once the jury left the room, he and his wife Emma Coronel, put their hands to their hearts and gave each other the thumbs up sign. His wife shed tears.

The 11-week trial, with testimony from more than 50 witnesses, offered an unprecedented look at the inner workings of the Sinaloa Cartel, named for the state in northwestern Mexico where Guzman was born in a poor mountain village. The U.S. government said Guzman trafficked tons of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine into the United States over more than two decades, consolidating his power in Mexico through murders and wars with rival cartels.

Guzman’s lawyers say he was set up as a “fall guy” by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a powerful drug lord from Sinaloa who remains at large.

Jeffrey Lichtman, a lawyer for Guzman, told reporters after the verdict that the defense faced an uphill fight, given the amount of evidence the government presented, and the widespread perception that Guzman was already guilty.

“Of course we’re going to appeal.”

Guzman, whose nickname means “Shorty,” was extradited to the United States for trial in 2017 after he was arrested in Mexico the year before.

Though other high-ranking cartel figures had been extradited previously, Guzman was the first to go to trial instead of pleading guilty. — Reuters

Alleged drug plane burns on Mexican highway

UNTV News   •   July 6, 2020

Dramatic scenes out of Mexico on Sunday (July 5) as a plane suspected of carrying drugs was reportedly set alight after allegedly being intercepted by soldiers on a highway in Quintana Roo state, according to local reports.

Media reported that the incident took place on Federal Highway 184. Members of the army doing a flyover at the site reportedly spotted the plane before deploying units.

According to some media reports, those aboard set fire to the plane to escape.

Authorities have yet to officially report on the contents of the plane or whether any arrests were made. (Reuters)

Vatican officials to visit Mexico to probe alleged sexual abuse cases involving clergies

UNTV News   •   March 4, 2020

Two Vatican officials charged with investigating accusations of sexual abuse by clergy will visit Mexico for a fact-finding mission later this month, the Church said on Tuesday (March 3).

Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu will meet with church leaders and alleged victims during their week-long visit to the world’s second largest Roman Catholic country, the Mexican bishops’ conference said.

Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola, general secretary of the bishops’ conference, told a news conference in Mexico City that the Church had requested aid from the Vatican in order to help the youngest and most vulnerable in Mexico.

Scicluna and Bertomeu are part of a taskforce created last year by Pope Francis to assist in countries where the Church had no guidance for dealing with sexual abuse cases. The two led the Vatican’s 2018 investigation into sexual abuse in Chile, producing a 2,300-page report that sparked the resignation of several of the country’s top bishops.

Scicluna also conducted the Vatican’s investigation into Father Marcial Maciel, the late founder of Mexico’s Legionaries of Christ Catholic religious order. Maciel was accused of sexually abusing at least 60 boys, some as young as 12.

Allegations of pedophilia have long plagued the Church in Mexico. Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez, President of the Mexican bishops conference, said 271 Mexican priests have been accused of sexual abuse to date.

The bishops’ conference said it does not have an estimate of the number of victims. Advocates say there are many more victims than those who have come forward with accusations. (Reuters Connect)

(Production: Carlos Carrillo, Paul Vieira)

Mexico lets cruise ship dock in Cozumel as crew member found to have flu, not coronavirus

UNTV News   •   February 28, 2020

A cruise ship with more than 6,000 people aboard was given permission on Wednesday (February 27) to dock in Mexico after passengers were denied entry in two Caribbean ports due to fears, later disproven, that a crew member was infected with the coronavirus.

Global cruise operator MSC Cruises said that Mexican authorities approved its ship MSC Meraviglia to dock in Cozumel.

The vessel, which started a tour of the western Caribbean from Miami, was due to arrive late on Wednesday or Thursday.

Jamaica and Grand Cayman had earlier barred passengers of the ship from disembarking on fears that one crew member, who has since been diagnosed with common seasonal flu, might have been infected with the coronavirus.

Cruise ships have been in the spotlight after confirmed cases of the coronavirus on the British-registered Diamond Princess approached 700 with three deaths since the ship docked at a Japanese port on Feb. 3.

A document from Mexico’s Health Ministry reviewed by Reuters said the MSC Meraviglia had been granted “free pratique,” or permission to enter the Cozumel port based on the assessment that it presented no risk of spreading disease.

It was not clear whether the ship’s passengers would be allowed to disembark in Cozumel.

MSC Cruises said the person with the seasonal flu was isolated for security measures but that no other cases of type-A influenza have been discovered on board – and no coronavirus infections have been reported on any of its ships.

“The crew member who was diagnosed with common seasonal flu is in a stable condition, receiving anti-viral treatment and medication, and is now free of fever and nearly recovered,” it said.

Alejandra Aguirre, health secretary of Quintana Roo state, where the Caribbean island of Cozumel is located, said, “We have information regarding the patient and fortunately it is not a case of coronavirus.”

Coronavirus, believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, has infected about 80,000 people and killed more than 2,700, most in China.

However, more than 30 countries have since reported cases with major outbreaks in South Korea, Iran, and Italy. (REUTERS CONNECT)

(Production: Ivan Alonso, Manuel Carrillo)

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