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.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

FARC / 22 DEC 2010

Colombian authorities have released information on a computer seized from the commander of the FARC’s Southern Bloc, Jose Benito Cabrera,…

EL CHAPO / 28 MAR 2016

Authorities in Mexico captured an alleged top money launderer for Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, but his arrest is unlikely…

MEXICO / 31 JUL 2017

One of the leaders of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel has turned himself in to US authorities in what could…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…