The Jury is in.
After a three-month trial full of more gore and treachery than you can pack into a Francis Ford Coppola film, the jury in the case against Joaquin Guzman Lorea (aka El Chapo) came to a steely verdict: the kingpin of the Sinaloa Cartel, the man responsible for the flood of cocaine and marijuana pouring over our Southern border since the 90’s, the dark Mexican folk hero and notoriously slippery criminal, is guilty as hell.
He was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday February, 12th, after the jury found him guilty on 10/10 counts of the indictment.
And what a journey it’s been, too. Over the course of this insane trial, we’ve learned about El Chapo’s brilliant jalapeno coke smuggling schemes; we’ve heard from his mad mistresses, women who he used as drug mules and discarded like tissues; we’ve heard about plane crashes, mass executions, assassinations and dirty underwear. 56 witnesses testified in total, 14 of whom once worked for El Chapo and many of the stories they told were stranger and more fantastic than fiction. It's almost a bummer the trial had to end.
But, at last, the jig is up. El Chapo is headed for the big house, and this time, that doesn’t mean some janky ass jail in bum-fuck Mexico where he’s got inside connections and tunnels beneath his cell. It means hard time in an American maximum-security prison.
Of course, El Chapo has escaped from prison before — twice, in fact. And, call me crooked, but I’m kind of rooting for number three, here. Yes, he’s a dangerous criminal and I’m well aware of all the heinous murders, rapes and drug related deaths he’s been directly and indirectly responsible for. But at the same time, if he fly’s the coop again, it will be an escape of historically epic proportions. And I wouldn’t put it past him. El Chapo has a strange way of getting people to underestimate his wile and cunning.
He may be the last of a dying breed. The Pablo Escobar-type Scarface-like big-time drug-lord coke kingpins of the eighties and nineties have been steadily dwindling, dying off or going to prison, becoming scarcer by the decade. That's not to say they're dissapearing, by all means and measures the cartel problem in Mexico is getting worse now that El Chapo is gone. But the eccentric and colorful criminal tycoons that make shows like Narcos so sickly-fascinating do not seem to be as abundant as they once were.
Will the world ever see another kingpin like El Chapo again?
Perhaps and perhaps not, only time will tell. What is certain though, is that someone has already stepped up to the plate to replace El Chapo as the head dog in the Sinaloa Cartel — several people, probably. According to the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Army Gen. Robert Ashley, the origional five ruling cartels have broken up since El Chapo (and other cartel leaders) has been captured, into 20 or so different factions vying for dominance and territory. Which, naturally, has resulted in an increase in violence. Aside from putting a notch in the DEA's belt, putting el Chapo behind bars forever accomplishes little in the grand scheme of things.
Because drug cartels are not like snakes — cut of their head, and they don’t give a damn. They’ll just find a new one.