Notorious drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán promises he won’t kill any jurors seated in his upcoming federal court trial, arguing it’s therefore unnecessary to keep them anonymous and under armed guard as prosecutors have asked.
Affording any special protections to the panel “sends the message to each juror that he or she needs to be protected from Mr. Guzmán. From there, members of the jury could infer that Mr. Guzmán is both dangerous and guilty,” defense attorney A. Eduardo Balarezo wrote in a recently filed motion.
Prosecutors have asked Brooklyn Federal Court Justice Brian Cogan to impanel an anonymous jury in the infamous cartel leader’s September trial, citing his long history of violence and instances in which he’s believed to have tried to whack past witnesses. They’ve also requested that jurors be kept partially sequestered and subject to armed escort to and from a safe location during the three- to four-month trial.
The Sinaloa Cartel leader faces a rash of charges, including criminal enterprise and international cocaine trafficking. Balarezo says the government is basing its fears on mere allegations of Guzmán’s violent behavior, based on “untested and suspect statements from cooperators seeking to reduce their own sentences.”
The lawyer adds that instead of enlisting an anonymous jury, jurors names could just be kept from the kingpin and media could be barred from reporting their identities.