Why is the El Chapo jury taking so long?
Jurors in the Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman trial must decide the fate of Mexico’s most notorious drug lord — but first, they have some homework to do.
The panel of eight women and four men, who entered their fifth day of deliberations Monday, are taking longer than many expected to reach a verdict, but their task is a lot more complicated than simply deciding whether the kingpin is “guilty.”
The jurors are weighing not only 10 counts against Guzman, including running a continuing criminal enterprise, firearms possession and the importation and distribution of cocaine — but also dozens of individual violations within those charges.
The continuing criminal enterprise count alone contains 27 separate violations — most for distributing specific quantities of cocaine on specific dates — that the panel members must assess one by one.
The jurors are working through an eight-page verdict sheet where they must mark off whether they agree that individual violations were “proven” or “not proven” by prosecutors, and explain their decisions with subsequent yes-or-no questions.
For instance, if they find Guzman guilty of count two — international cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana manufacture and distribution conspiracy — they must also note whether the offense was shown to have involved 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, 1 kilo or more of heroin, 500 grams or more of meth, and 1,000 kilos of weed.
So far, the jurors appear to be drilling into these questions very diligently.
During their first week of deliberations, they requested to review thousands of pages of testimony from government witnesses.
They also asked the judge specific questions such as whether ephedrine — a drug used to make meth — is “considered meth,” and whether it is a “drug crime” if drug cartels kill members of rival organizations for “personal reasons.”
Guzman faces up to life behind bars if convicted of the top count.
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