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NEW YORK Drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman
appeared in a U.S. court on Friday after his surprise
extradition from Mexico and pleaded not guilty to charges that
he ran the world’s largest drug-trafficking organization during
a decades-long criminal career.
El Chapo (Spanish for “Shorty”), who twice made dramatic
escapes from Mexican prisons and was one of the world’s most
wanted drug lords, was accompanied by two lawyers during the
appearance in federal court in Brooklyn.
The indictment in Brooklyn against him, with 17 criminal
counts, carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison,
Robert Capers, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New
York, said at a news conference earlier in the day.
U.S. prosecutors have more than 40 witnesses ready to
testify against Guzman, Capers told reporters, adding that the
eventual trial will likely last “many” weeks.
Leading the Sinaloa cartel, Guzman oversaw perhaps the
world’s largest transnational cocaine, heroin and
methamphetamine smuggling operation, playing a key role in
Mexico’s decade-long drug war that has killed over 100,000
Guzman, 59, arrived in a small jet at Long Island’s
MacArthur Airport after nightfall on Thursday from a prison in
the city of Juarez in the northern state of Chihuahua, where his
Sinaloa cartel rules. (Additional reporting by Joseph Ax)
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