First he beat them with a stick until their bones shattered.
Then he flung their bodies at the foot of a raging bonfire, uttered one final obscenity, shot them in their heads and burned their remains.
That’s the gruesome testimony jurors heard Thursday about the ice-cold blood running through Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s veins during the twin executions of two rival cartel workers more than a decade ago.
Former cartel bodyguard Isaias “Memin” Valdez Rios described the killings after taking the stand as the government’s final cooperating witness at Guzman’s drug trafficking trial in Brooklyn Federal Court, which ended its 10th week Thursday.
El Chapo trial: ex-bodyguard says he watched boss bury victim alive https://t.co/3d0sLla6yZ
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Valdez Rios, arrested on drug charges in 2014, said he personally witnessed Guzman pull the trigger during the side-by-side slayings and saw the ruthless narco assassinate a third badly tortured man around the same time between 2006 and 2007 in the Sinaloa mountains.
He said the bonfire brutality involved two men who allegedly worked for the rival Los Zetas cartel and were delivered to Guzman after their capture by cartel capo Damaso Lopez Nunez, the government’s prior witness in the case.
“Hey, guys — they are sending us a gift,” Guzman allegedly told his security detail, referring to the two men marked for death.
Valdez Rios said Guzman first ordered his minions to beat the men in a shed and later a “secluded area,” but then decided it was his turn.
“Mr. Joaquin requested a big stick, like a long branch,” Valdez Rios said. “We brought one to him, and he started torturing them.”
Asked to elaborate, the witness said, “The stick that he had requested, obviously he didn’t request that to be affectionate.”
Valdez Rios said the men were beaten until they looked like “rag dolls.”
“All their bones in their body were fractured,” he said. “They could not move. Mr. Joaquin kept beating them with that stick.”
He said Guzman also whipped the men with his weapon — either an AR-15 or an M16.
“He was telling them, ‘You mother—–s. How is it possible you’re working for those people and you’re betraying us?” Valdez Rios said.
The witness said the men were killed because they dared to work for another cartel instead of pledging their loyalty to Guzman simply because they hailed from the same home state.
In Guzman’s eyes, “they were betraying the people of Sinaloa,” Valdez Rios said.
The witness said once the beating of the two men ended, Guzman requested two ATVs and ordered the badly injured victims “slung” over the vehicles and delivered to the roaring bonfire.
The men were thrown off the vehicles, and Guzman loaded up his gun, he recalled.
“The Zetas were seeing the bonfire,” he said. “They seemed like they were scared.”
Guzman put the barrel of his rifle up to the first man’s skull, said, “F— your mother,” and pulled the trigger, Valdez Rios testified.
He then repeated the chilling scene with the remaining man, the witness said.
“Put them in the bonfire,” the witness said Guzman told his workers. “I don’t want any bones to remain.”
Guzman’s men tended to the fire until the sun came up, Valdez Rios said. In the morning, the men assured their boss the bones were completely “ground up,” he said.
As jurors listened to the horrific tale with grim expressions, Guzman remained calm and silent, as did his ex-beauty queen wife Emma Coronel, 29, who was seated in the courtroom.
Valdez Rios said the other murder he witnessed involved a man who allegedly worked for the rival Arrellano Felix Cartel and was brought to one of Guzman’s encampments in Durango.
The blindfolded man arrived “severely tortured,” Valdez Rios said, with charred skin that looked badly burned by a clothing iron.
“How can he send me this a–hole just like that? They should have just killed him,” an annoyed Guzman allegedly said when he saw the man’s sorry state.
Valdez Rios said the crime lord left the victim lying in agony for several days, until the man’s rotting flesh began to stink.
“We told Mr. Joaquin the person had this really bad odor because he was pretty much decomposing away,” Valdez Rios said.
At that point, Guzman ordered his men to start digging a grave, he said.
With the man cowering on the ground near the open hole, Guzman lifted his .25-caliber handgun, called him a “mother—-r,” and shot him, Valdez Rios said.
“That shot,” the witness said, “I mean, it was a small shot. The person was gasping for air, and that’s how we dumped him in the hole.”
Guzman, 61, has pleaded not guilty to more than a dozen charges of drug trafficking, conspiracy, money laundering and illegal firearms.
If convicted at the trial expected to wrap up next month, he could face up to life behind bars.
© 2019 New York Daily News
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