Drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman failed to outline adequate grounds for a new trial so his February conviction should stand, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
Judge Brian Cogan said any “rational jury” would have found Chapo guilty based on the “mountain range of evidence” painstakingly presented by prosecutors over three months in Brooklyn Federal Court.
As part of his 45-page ruling, Cogan also denied Chapo’s request for a hearing to further investigate claims some jurors secretly followed coverage of the trial and saw possibly prejudicial allegations Chapo drugged and raped underage girls he called “vitamins.”
Cogan called such juror conduct “undesirable” but said the allegations didn’t warrant “an ocean-wide fishing expedition” when viewed in the context of all the other equally “gruesome” evidence presented in the massive case.
“The jury did not blindly convict (the) defendant,” Cogan wrote, “it held the government to its burden of proof.”
He was adamant jurors heard “overwhelming” testimony that Chapo tortured and murdered people and engaged in “extensive drug trafficking activities.”
Chapo’s camp immediately slammed the judge’s ruling.
“This isn’t even remotely surprising as we’ve said from the start that the Joaquin Guzman trial was more of an inquisition, a show trial, than an exercise in true American justice,” defense lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman said in a statement to The New York Daily News.
“There will always be a stain of injustice on this case as the jury’s rampant misconduct was summarily swept under the rug by the Court and the government — who were never seeking the truth, just a conviction,” he said.
Chapo, 62, was convicted Feb. 12. Jurors decided he was a “principal” boss of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, a finding that triggered a mandatory life sentence.
Eight days after the verdict, Vice News published a bombshell story based on a two-hour video interview with one of the 12 anonymous jurors.
The juror, recognized by the reporter who sat through the trial, claimed several panelists read Twitter posts and media stories against the judge’s orders and seven were aware of the child molestation accusations excluded from testimony.
Chapo is scheduled back in court July 17 for his sentencing.
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