HomeNewsBriefWitness Protection in El Chapo Trial Becoming Legal Ping-Pong
BRIEF

Witness Protection in El Chapo Trial Becoming Legal Ping-Pong

EL CHAPO / 26 OCT 2018 BY CHRIS DALBY EN

With the trial of Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” set to begin on November 5, fears over whether jurors and witnesses can be kept safe are fueling an already crazy media circus and making little sense in the process.

The latest threat is that members of the Sinaloa Cartel could infiltrate the trial by either posing as press with fake credentials or by blackmailing real journalists to help them, El Universal reported.

Prosecutors are going to extraordinary lengths in order to keep any information about witnesses and jurors secret in the trial of El Chapo, according to The New York Times.

And in February, they convinced judge Brian M. Cogan to keep the identity of the jury safe throughout the entire trial. The jurors will also be driven to and from their homes by armed federal marshals.

    SEE ALSO: Sinaloa Cartel News and Profile

Meanwhile, the witnesses who are in jail have been placed under extreme protective custody while others have been instructed to “cut off all ties with family and friends in order to maintain the highest levels of protection.”

Guzmán Loera’s defense lawyer, Eduardo Balarezo, has denied there is any reason for such protections. In January, he claimed that his client would be incapable of imparting orders about anything, much less an assassination, given his near constant isolation within prison. Balarezo has also claimed these are tactics deployed by the prosecution to unfairly influence the trial.

In response, prosecutors accused him of “endangering a witness” by recently mentioning the witness’ name in a text message.

InSight Crime Analysis

Without more information, it is hard to make sense of both sides’ assertions.

Although the Sinaloa Cartel did allegedly kill a federal judge overseeing El Chapo’s case while he was out jogging in 2016, as well as murder the father of two witnesses in 2009, attacking jurors or witnesses in the US would be on another level and highly unlikely given the magnitude of this case. Witness tampering happens but is rare in cases of this level; juror tampering is even less common.

    SEE ALSO: Coverage of El Chapo

Tampering with witnesses may be a moot point anyway, since most international drug cases also enter a large amount of forensic evidence, from bank statements to transcripts of intercepted phone calls, which is often much more reliable and important than human memory.

On the other hand, Balarezo’s assertion that prosecutors are trying to sway the jury by taking these precautions also makes little sense, since a threat would make them less likely to convict. It is also ironic, coming from a media-savvy personality who has gained fame by representing other drug kingpins.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

GULF CARTEL / 6 NOV 2015

Beginning in the 1990s, Mexico's cartels began recruiting hired gunmen to act as armed cells. Since then, violence against civilians…

FEATURED / 27 APR 2021

Long considered a backwater, low-class drug, methamphetamine availability and use has exploded in the United States in the last few…

EL INGENIERO (TIJUANA) / 31 MAY 2011

Tijuana is facing a new trend in kidnapping. Unlike the wave of indiscriminate abductions for ransom that hit this…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…