A lawyer for Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has tried to poke holes in testimony that the notorious Mexican drug kingpin carried out vicious, hours-long beatings by suggesting that he was too short and too old to do so.
El Chapo’s 5ft 6in frame was considered as Eduardo Balarezo questioned his ex-bodyguard, Isaias Valdez Rios.
Valdez told how his former boss tortured and murdered at least three members of rival cartels.
He described how one man connected with Arellano Felix brothers was shot and then buried alive, while two others from the Los Zetas Cartel were beaten ‘like rag dolls’ in 2005.
But Balarezo tried to cast doubt on the story. ‘For three hours, Chapo Guzman was beating the hell out of these guys?’ an incredulous Balarezo asked Valdez.
He then got Chapo to stand up.
‘This 5-foot-6 guy, 60-something years old was just whacking at these guys with a tree branch?’ the lawyer continued.
‘That’s right,’ Valdez replied.
On Monday, The actor who played notorious drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman on the Netflix hit series Narcos: Mexico made an unexpected cameo as a spectator at the kingpin’s trial this morning.
Alejandro Edda jetted in from Mexico and showed up at 6am Monday to get a seat in a packed courtroom where Guzman, 61, is fighting drug-trafficking charges.
Guzman was seen beaming when the Narcos star was pointed out to him in the spectators’ gallery.
Also on Monday, Guzman told a judge he decided not to testify in his own defense after consulting with his attorneys.
The announcement came on the same day the government rested a case that began in mid-November.
Center of attention: Actor Alejandro Edda on Monday attended the trial of Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, whom he portrays in the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico
Edda played El Chapo as a young man on Season 4 of the hit show (left). Guzman, 61 (right), is currently on trail on drug trafficking charges in Brooklyn
In Season 4 of Narcos, which premiered last year, Edda portrayed Guzman as a young man working as a driver for another real-life Mexican drug lord, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, played by Diego Luna.
The show, based on true events, revolved around the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s efforts to capture Gallardo, and the eventual kidnapping and brutal killing of DEA agent Kiki Camarena, as portrayed by Michael Pena.
Witnessing the silent greeting exchanged between Edda and Guzman, the New York Post reported that a US Marshal warned those in the audience to avoid making any hand gestures or laughing, reminding everyone present, ‘this isn’t Comedy Central.’
Lady in black: Guzman’s wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, appears arriving in Brooklyn Federal Court dressed in all black on Monday morning
Jurors have heard testimony that would make Guzman’s reaction to Edda’s presence understandable. Cooperators who spent time with him during his heyday said he often spoke about wanting to see either a movie or book made about his life story.
The Post described Edda as diligently taking notes during the testimony of Guzman’s former bodyguard Isaias Valdez Rios.
Seeking to get a better look at ‘El Chapo,’ Edda at one point even borrowed a pair of binoculars from a reporter.
He also kept an eye on the kingpin’s wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, 29, who showed up in court dressed in an all-black ensemble.
During a break in the proceedings, Edda got to meet the former beauty queen.
The two were seen exchanging a kiss on the cheek and greeting one another in Spanish in the hallway.
Edda is seen throwing a Molotov cocktail while playing a young El Chapo in Narcos: Mexico
Guzman’s defense team joined Coronel and Edda and discussed the prospect of making a movie about the defendant’s life in the future.
One of the drug lord’s attorneys, Eduardo Balarezo, quipped that he would like Academy Award winner George Clooney to portray him on the big screen.
In recent years, Guzman has courted publicity, seeking to make a movie about his life and giving an interview to actor Sean Penn for Rolling Stone magazine in 2015.
Speaking later to a gaggle of reporters outside Brooklyn Federal Court, Edda appeared starstruck by his encounter with El Chapo, saying his hands were sweaty and his heart was ‘pumping fast,’ according to the New York Daily News.
He said it was strange for him to come face to face with the real El Chapo and that he never experienced anything like this trial.
Last week, a former Guzman assistant testified that he witnessed the defendant viciously torture his enemies before they were killed. He was one of the government’s final witnesses.
Federal prosecutors rested their case today, after three months of testimony by more than 50 witnesses.
Jeffrey Lichtman, one of Guzman’s lawyers, said in his opening argument in November that his client was framed by the cartel’s true leader, Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada, with the help of corrupt government officials.
Lichtman said on Monday he planned to call two U.S. law enforcement agents, whom he did not name, as defense witnesses on Tuesday morning. Lichtman had said in a court filing on Saturday that he wanted to call the agents to rebut testimony by two of the prosecution’s witnesses about their earlier statements to law enforcement.
Judge Cogan said prosecutors should expect to begin their closing argument on Wednesday morning.
Edda got a chance to meet Coronel outside the courtroom and exchanged a kiss on the cheek with her
Edda told reporters his hands were sweaty and his heart was beating fast during his encounter with El Chapo
Guzman announced his decision after prosecutors rested their case against him in federal court in Brooklyn. After excusing the jury, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan asked Guzman directly whether he understood it was his decision, not that of his lawyers, to testify or not.
‘Yes, but they counseled me about it and I agree with them,’ Guzman answered.
Had Guzman, 61, testified, it would have provided a fitting climax to an already dramatic trial. However, Guzman’s decision was widely expected, as testifying would have exposed him to cross-examination by prosecutors.
Guzman, the alleged leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, was extradited to the United States in 2017. He has been on trial since November on charges of trafficking vast quantities of cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs into the country.
The main defense argument, as put forth by Guzman lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman in his opening statement, has been that the real leader of the Sinaloa Cartel is Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada, and that Zambada bribed the Mexican and US governments to frame Guzman.
Guzman’s lawyers have discussed multiple potential witnesses with prosecutors in open court, and have filed a motion suggesting they might call an inmate in the US prison system, but they have not publicly revealed any names.
The defense was expected to call two witnesses Tuesday. Closing arguments were set to begin Wednesday.