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El Chapo Convicted, Faces Life in Prison

Joaquin Guzman Loera, the Mexican drug kingpin better known as El Chapo, was convicted on all charges following a three-month trial in New York this week. The charges included drug trafficking, weapons charges, and money laundering. The top count of running in a criminal enterprise carries a life sentence. 

Guzman has been in American custody since early 2017, after being extradited to Brooklyn following an arrest after a gunfight in Mexico. Federal prosecutors had indicted Guzman back in 2009. The trial shed light on the inner workings of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, which is believed to have shipped tons of drugs into the United States over many years. The prosecution presented testimony from 56 witnesses, 14 of whom worked for Guzman.

The trial faced intense media scrutiny and stringent security procedures. Police snipers and federal marshals with radiation sensors guarded the courthouse and courtroom, and bomb-sniffing dogs regularly patrolled the vicinity. Jurors were accompanied by armed escorts, and courtroom sketch artists were prohibited from drawing distinguishing facial features or the hairstyle of a key witness. All artists were required to show the sketches to government prosecutors for approval before distribution. Anyone who wished to attend the trial had to pass through both an x-ray machine and a metal detector to enter the courthouse and further screening to then enter the courtroom. 

Guzman's 29-year-old beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, has attended the trial in support of her husband, despite testimony from one of his mistresses which included a tearful exlamation of love for the 61-year-old drug lord. One day, Ms. Aispuro and Guzman wore matching red velvet jackets to court. 

It is rumored that Guzman will be sent to the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado that has been referred to as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies." The prison is home to the Unambomber Ted Kacynski, Bostom Marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev, and Shoe bomber Richard Reid. Guzman is widely known for his escapes from high-security Mexican prisons: In 2001, Guzman bribed his way out of prison and in 2015 he escaped another by tunneling under his shower. No inmate has ever escaped the Colorado Supermax. 

Guzman plans to appeal his conviction. His lawyers have indicated that an appeal will address the extradition process that landed Guzman in New York and the prosecution's efforts to restrict the defense's cross-examination of witnesses. Guzman was allegedly expecting the guilty verdict. 

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