Now that my book; “Convicting Chapo, Naked and Afraid – the Trial to Convict El Chapo” (Buy Here) is on sale I would like to share a few things that bothered me about the Chapo trial. There is an American notion that criminal trials are the fairest in the world. The notion also believes that the American court system is the best in the world. I’ve seen enough trials, both state and federal to know better, but many Americans still buy into the idea that American criminal trials determine the guilt of those accused of crimes.
I’m going to touch on a few in this post. However, there is one thing that bothers me the most. It has to do with the simple question of why is Emma Coronel Aispuro, Chapo’s wife, not in jail today. I’ll focus on that tomorrow.
As I wrote the book I kept thinking about the following issues. Because I wanted to keep the book focused on the trial’s factual events, I refrained from addressing these issues. But, in today’s post, I’d like to address them.
Why Aren’t American Federal Trials Live Streamed?
There is a notion that American trials are adjudicated by the defendant’s peers, but I am left wondering how American citizens can be characterized as Chapo’s peers. Americans have a different life perspective from Mexicans due to culture, economic status and other life-altering issues. But, most important is the notion that American trials are supposed to be open to the public.
It is true that reporters and spectators alike can witness a trial live. However, federal courts do not allow recording devices in the courtroom leaving the community to wait until the news cycles to find out what happened at trial. Unless someone had the wherewithal to spend more than three months in the courtroom, the only thing they know about the trial what is digested to them through the news media. Not only is the information they receive subject to biases and economic necessities but also is a day, or more after the fact. Sometimes the news delivers the day’s events on the same day, but it is heavily digested to fit news cycles.
The question then becomes, why is it that with today’s technology to live stream a public event, do American federal courts still resist public scrutiny of the court proceedings? If it is about the court security of the jury or witnesses, the fact is that spectators were allowed into the court room unimpeded and could see both the jury and the witnesses.
Even if it still remains a concern that mass viewing of witnesses or juries could endanger them, that does not explain the live-streaming of testimony via sound only.
If CSPAN can live stream political events there is no reason why federal courts could not do the same.
If it is a question about funds to provide the service, cases like El Chapo would have willing subscribers to pay for the service.
Who paid the defense team?
The one question that I, and at least one juror had, is who is paying for Chapo’s defense team? This is important because ultimately the drug trade remains in place because of the huge illicit funds it generates. When defense lawyers get paid with money that cannot be proven to be free of the drug trade, it only emboldens more wrongdoers to get into the drug trade.
Even if Chapo’s attorneys did not get paid to put on his defense, there must be other means by which the attorneys benefited from defending Chapo. If it was simply the notoriety of defending the Mexican drug kingpin, then that, in itself, is allowing El Chapo to benefit from his crimes, as well as his attorneys.
So, the simple question, is why is it that Chapo’s defense team doesn’t want you to know how much and who paid their retainers.
Testimony The Jury Did Not See
Court trials are spectacles designed to play games with the law rather than to adjudicate the guilt of the defendant. The headlines blurred that former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto took millions in bribes. This is because the defense team wanted to make it seem like El Chapo was just a scapegoat at trial. But because the jury heard that tidbit, before the judge ended that line of questioning the headlines blared that Peña Nieto is corrupt.
What the jury and the rest of the public did not hear was that the U.S. prosecutors did not believe that the bribe had taken place. Even though there was an FBI informant, who supposedly took a picture of suitcases full of cash, to date no corroboration of the alleged bribe has been offered. But, the public spectacle of a Mexican president taking millions in bribes remains as a fact.
There was also testimony that the judge cut short about DEA agents taking bribes. Where are the headlines about that?
But there was also other evidence that the jury did not hear about. The first is that there is evidence, with corroboration, that El Chapo victimized 13-year-old girls by raping and drugging them. That is a heinous crime that if the idea is to adjudicate the crimes of a defendant then the jury should know about other crimes, especially as heinous as this one and with corroboration.
Even then, there is another crime – the rape of a witness – that the jury did not hear about. One of the most damaging witnesses for Chapo was his mistress, Lucero Sánchez, who was raped by Chapo as a child, according to the evidence, and yet the jury did not know about it.
Again, if the idea is for the jury to determine the culpability of a defendant, shouldn’t the jury know everything that motivates a witness to testify?
The Chapo trial was full of drama, including two defense lawyers being reprimanded for their part in illegal telephones in the courtroom. There was also the case of Chapo’s wife, and El Chapo wearing similar outfits to the courtroom one day that were clearly designed to send a message to the witness testifying that day. Since El Chapo was prohibited from communicating with his wife, the only possible explanation to the outfit coordination was via Chapo’s attorneys.
As a message to the witness, there are only two possible reasons. At best, a simple message of solidarity between Chapo and his wife to Chapo’s mistress who was testifying that day, or, at worst, witness intimidation.
How come this was allowed to happen? What else did the defense do to facilitate El Chapo?
Kill 150 People, Walk Away by Testifying
One of the witnesses testifying against El Chapo was “Chupeta,” Chapo’s Colombian cocaine connection. Chupeta is a bizarre guy who has had multiple plastic surgeries in an attempt to hide himself from authorities. So many that his face is deformed now.
But to each his own.
My problem with Chupeta is that American authorities are willing to “forgive” the murder of at least 150 people some of which were American citizens and that Chupeta readily admitted to, just so that they could have him as a witness against Chapo. I will admit his testimony is important but it is not the reason El Chapo was convicted. El Chapo talked himself into the conviction through the hundreds of hours of taped conversations the FBI has on him and the millions of text messages they also possess.
No, my problem is that Chupeta got a prison deal basically ignoring the murder of 150 people in exchange for his testimony. That, in itself, is bribery as well.
Many, including me celebrate the strong possibility that El Chapo will spend the rest of his life in concrete cell. But that does not excuse the courtroom shenanigans.