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The El Chapo Jury Is Still Deliberating. Here's Why

The first of 10 counts has 27 separate violations to assess. Then there are 9 more counts
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2019 10:15 AM CST

(Newser) – The trial itself was riveting in a made-for-the-movies kind of way. Jurors in the El Chapo case in New York heard about murders, mistresses, daring escapes, massive bribes, and much more. You might have even envied jurors for their front-row seats. Now, not so much. The jury deciding whether Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is a drug lord who ran the Sinaloa cartel entered its second week of deliberations on Tuesday. What's taking so long? Their task is insanely complicated. Details:

  • The volume: Jurors heard from 57 witnesses and saw hundreds of exhibits, per Vice. Now they have a 25-page charging document to assess and what amounts to a complicated eight-page "scorecard" to fill out with the verdict on each count and related violation. To help, they have about 60 pages of instructions.
  • Quite a count: El Chapo is charged with 10 different counts, but those counts are doozies. For example, the first one, "Engaging in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise," has 27 separate violations, and all must be considered individually, reports the New York Post. To be guilty of the count, he must be found guilty of at least three of the violations.
  • Sample questions: The jurors have returned to the courtroom with questions, including, "Is ephedrine considered methamphetamine?" "Does a violation have to be proven or not proven unanimously?" and is it a "drug crime" if cartels kill rivals for "personal reasons"? They've also requested thousands of pages of testimony from witnesses.

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  • Quite a count, II: The second count involves dealing in cocaine, heroin, meth, and marijuana, but as part of a guilty verdict, jurors also would have to determine the amount of each drug involved.
  • Hard to judge: "Yes, it's confusing," a former federal prosecutor tells the Los Angeles Times. "Maybe they all think he's guilty of different violations. It's pretty difficult to tell what's going on in that room."
  • He's not walking: Despite the length of deliberations, nobody is predicting El Chapo will walk. If he's convicted on just one of those 10 counts, the 61-year-old would likely spend the rest of his life in prison. On the long-shot chance that he's cleared of everything, El Chapo faces trials in other jurisdictions, including Chicago, notes the Guardian.
  • Enjoying the show: Prosecutors may be getting a bit edgy with the length of deliberations, but El Chapo himself appears to be enjoying it, reports the Daily Beast. Whenever jurors return, he's escorted back to the courtroom, too. There he has laughed and waved to his wife, and "ebulliently" shaken the hands of his lawyers.
(Read more El Chapo stories.)

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