'Avalanche of evidence' to convict El Chapo

Jeffrey Lichtman

Jeffrey Lichtman

A lawyer for accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman told jurors on Thursday his client was a scapegoat, with even a famous 2015 prison escape part of an elaborate conspiracy to set him up as a "fall guy".

Jeffrey Lichtman, the lawyer for Joaquin Guzman, better known by his nickname "El Chapo" (for "Shorty"), told a U.S. court that the entire case against his client is based on testimonies by convicted criminals who have been given "sweetheart deals" to frame Guzman in exchange for shortened sentences, Time reported Thursday.

In summing up, the defense's case for the jury, attorney Jeffrey Lichtman says prosecutors failed to see what he calls the "600 pound gorilla" in the courtroom - reasonable doubt. He dismissed the testimony of government witnesses as "repulsive, dishonest garbage" and called into question the motives of the U.S. Justice Department, which he accused of disregarding another man the defense calls the actual cartel leader.

The government claims Guzman made billions trafficking drugs into the United States. Prosecutors describe him as the leader the Sinaloa Cartel, the largest drug smuggling ring in history.

Lichtman rebutted testimony by former Colombian drug supplier Alex Cifuentes that El Chapo had paid a $100 million bribe to former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto, saying he would never do so only to be "hunted like an animal". Guzmán's lawyers have previously said that he was only a lieutenant.

He said Zambada had paid the bribe, and was as a result "free as a bird".

Standing in front of a table piled with trial evidence including AK-47 rifles and bricks of cocaine, Goldbarg said Guzman ran from the law because he wanted to avoid sitting before a jury. Pena Nieto denies taking any bribes.

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The businesses have long operated in California and other states and cater to well-to-do couples from China, Russia, Nigeria and Turkey.

"If you don't believe the cooperators, then you can't convict Mr. Guzman", Lichtman told the jury.

It was a toned-down version of Lichtman's opening statement nearly three months ago, in which he claimed that the US government and Zambada conspired to frame Guzman.

According to Lichtman, the 14 cooperating witnesses who testified against El Chapo can not be trusted, as they are "lying opportunists".

"These witnesses not only lied every day of their lives - their miserable, selfish lives - they lied while they were cooperating", he said.

The prosecution, Lichtman added, orchestrated a "scripted event" over the past three months in federal court in Brooklyn based on the shifting accounts of degenerate drug dealers seeking leniency in their own cases. "It could be Mayo Zambada".

"The defence is pointing fingers everywhere except where the evidence points", she said.

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