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Hello from Day 31 of El Chapo's trial.

More testimony coming this morning from Victor Vazquez, a DEA agent who captured Chapo in 2014.

The story of that capture is covered episode 6 of our podcast. Listen: open.spotify.com/episode/738NnU…
We saw this footage during Vazquez's testimony yesterday.

It shows Mexican marines and DEA agents on Black Hawk helicopters flying over Sinaloa toward a ranch owned by El Mayo, who was the target of an unsuccessful capture operation 11 days before they got Chapo.
Vazquez also narrated this footage. It shows Mexican marines and DEA agents raiding El Mayo's ranch on the outskirts of Culiacán on Feb. 13, 2014.

Mayo was gone by the time they arrived. They arrested two of his associates, which Vazquez said led to a large weapons seizure.
The DEA eventually tracked Chapo to this house in Culiacán, but he escaped through a tunnel hidden underneath his bathtub. We went here for the podcast and walked through the end of the tunnel. Listen: open.spotify.com/episode/738NnU…
We also heard testimony yesterday from an FBI cryptologist who studied El Chapo's drug ledgers. Here's her analysis, which explains how Chapo used coded language to keep his books.

1. documentcloud.org/documents/5687…

2. documentcloud.org/documents/5687…
ICYMI: Story from last night @vicenews on a new corruption allegation from El Chapo's trial that involves Mexico's president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. news.vice.com/en_us/article/…
Stay tuned for updates today. In addition to hearing more from the DEA agent Vazquez, we could get testimony from a very interesting cooperating witness.
Absolutely riveting testimony from DEA agent Victor Vazquez about the capture of El Chapo in 2014. We heard him describe using battering rams to break down doors, marines chasing Chapo through tunnels, and saw photos of the weapons and drugs found in Chapo's safe houses.
The marines ultimately tracked Chapo to a beachfront hotel in Mazatlan on Feb. 21, 2014. Vazquez described his concern as the marines stormed the hotel: "There's no tunnels in this hotel, I hope, so he's probably going to run out the window."
Once inside, the marines went floor to floor searching for Chapo. Then Vazquez got the call on his radio: "777 - confirmado Vic. Come to the basement."

"That's when I knew we got him," Vazquez recalled.

He ran down to a parking garage, where El Chapo was detained on his knees.
Vazquez said the Mexican marines on this operation didn't have much experience w/ the Sinaloa cartel so they asked Vazquez to identify Chapo and confirm his capture: "At that moment, I even froze myself. I said 'Holy — it is him. I looked at him and said 'Eres tu. It's you."
We saw several videos from the raids on Chapo's safe houses in Culiacan and got new details on the hunt.

Will post those later. In the meantime, listen to our podcast, which describes another DEA agent's version of this story.

open.spotify.com/episode/738NnU…
This was absolutely devastating testimony for El Chapo. In particular, they showed a photo of a small arsenal of weapons seized from one of the safe houses. Among the RPGs and other items was Chapo's diamond-encrusted pistol, leaving no doubt about who was living there.
Victor Vazquez is done testifying. Cross-examination by Eduardo Balarezo tried to raise questions about how hard the DEA really tried to catch Mayo Zambada. Also asked about some interesting particulars of the Chapo capture.
Balarezo asked Vazquez whether he was armed during the capture operations. This is a sensitive subject, since DEA agents aren't supposed to carry weapons in Mexico. Vazquez didn't want to answer, but prosecutors had introduced a photo that showed him w/ an assault rifle.
Balarezo also asked Vazquez about the intelligence that led to Chapo's capture, specifically inquiring about "drones" and other unspecified "electronic" intercepts. Prosecutors objected repeatedly and we didn't get more details.
Balarezo also went out of his way to point out that Chapo didn't have any gunmen with him at the hotel in Mazatlan — just his wife and young daughters, plus a nanny and one of his lieutenants who was armed. No shots were fired. He went peacefully.
Balarezo also showed this photo, taken right after Chapo was captured. He had Chapo stand up in court, then asked Vazquez to compare Chapo's face today to what's in the photo. Balarezo pointed to the mark on Chapo's face and the bruises, suggesting the marines beat up Chapo.
Balarezo tried repeatedly to get Vazquez to say he entered Chapo's hotel room with the marines. The DEA agent insisted he was down in the lobby the whole time. This is a point of contention because many believe DEA agents took Chapo into custody — not the Mexicans.
Balarezo also asked about other American agents who were present during the operation. The government objected and Vazquez didn't have to answer. The questions were clearly referencing Drew Hogan, the DEA agent we interviewed for our podcast. He was left out of this testimony.
An agent from Homeland Security Investigations is now testifying about how the agency wiretapped El Chapo and cracked his communications network. Chapo used an elaborate "mirror" system where messages were passed from one underling to another up the chain of command.
HSI agent said they wiretapped 77 devices associated with El Chapo and intercepted a whopping 1.5 million messages, mostly sent through BlackBerry Messenger. It was Chapo's preferred comms method after parting ways with Christian Rodriguez, the IT guy turned FBI informant.
Heading back up the courtroom, where HSI agent is under cross-examination.

Stay tuned for updates, still expecting an interesting cooperating witness to be called later this afternoon.
Latest witness is Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez, a former state legislator from Sinaloa who became romantically involved with Chapo… and also trafficked marijuana for him. She was 21 when they first met. She's now 29 and facing 10 to life in US federal prison.
Lucero has long brown hair, almost down to her waist, and dyed blonde at the bottom. She's clearly Chapo's type — she looks very similar to Emma Coronel and another mistress. Emma is also in the courtroom but not betraying any emotion as she listens to the testimony.
Lucero is from Cosalá, Sinaloa. She met Chapo when one of his workers brought her a phone and they began to communicate. It was later swapped out for a "fixed" BlackBerry. That means it had spyware installed on it — so prosecutors have records for all of their text messages.
Lucero said Chapo sent her to the mountains near where she had once lived to buy marijuana. She didn't know much about the business but he wanted to use her local connections. He gave orders to buy weed w/ the three B's: "buena, bonita, and barata" — good, pretty, and cheap.
Prosecutors have shown dozens of text messages between Lucero and Chapo where he blends their romantic relationship w/ business. Will share those later. Safe to say, this makes Chapo look terrible. He's calling her "amor" — my love — while giving orders to buy kilos. It's gross.
Testimony still ongoing, stay tuned for updates.
Trial was about to resume w/ more testimony from Lucero but she was weeping uncontrollably on the witness stand. Judge decided not to bring out the jury and extended the mid-afternoon break. Chapo's wife Emma watched this unfold with a wry smile on her face.
Lucero was clearly stressed out even before she started crying. She has a nervous tic that's causing her to squint/blink her eyes repeatedly. She's soft-spoken, trying hard to avoid eye contact w/ Chapo.
More updates coming soon, stay tuned…
We've heard a lot of incredible testimony in 9 weeks of El Chapo's trial but the story that Lucero Sanchez just told was probably the most incredible thing yet.

She described fleeing from the 2014 raid by the DEA and marines with Chapo through the bathtub tunnel. He was naked.
By the raid in 2014, Lucero says she was trying to distance herself from Chapo. "The relationship ended but it seemed like it would never end."

She had been forced to leave office in Mexico because of her connections to him. She was also starting to see his darkest side.
Before the raid and the escape through the bathtub tunnel, Lucero was at another house with Chapo in Culiacán. They were eating a meal together when Chapo's secretary came to deliver a message: Chapo's cousin, known in the cartel as Virgo or Juancho, was dead.
Lucero on Chapo receiving the news of his cousin's death: "First he did not react — he looked at me seriously and then he said some words I did not like. What he said was, from that point on, whoever betrayed him was going to die, whether they were family or women."
On the day of the bathtub tunnel escape, Lucero had already been forced to flee from one house to another with Chapo, a place she'd never been before. It had a pool with TV screens nearby. She recalled Chapo saying, "That's so we can watch TV when we're dipping here in the pool."
The TV screens were actually surveillance cameras that showed what was happening on the street outside Chapo's house. Early the next morning, at around 4am, she awoke to a loud thump and yelling. The cameras showed Mexican marines using a battering ram on the front door.
Lucero was terrified. Chapo and his secretary Condor are frantic. Then Chapo goes into the bathroom and calls for her: "He said, 'Love, love, come in here.' There was like a lid on the bathtub that came up. I was scared. I was like, 'Do I have to go in there?' It was very dark."
The bathtub opened with a hydraulic piston w/ wooden steps underneath. Lucero: "The only other thing I could see was complete darkness."

Condor closed the tub. Lucero felt trapped. "For me it was horrible. I'd never been in a place like that. It was humid and filed with mud."
Lucero could still hear the marines banging on the door with a battering ram. Chapo and Condor struggled with a second door inside the tunnel made of reinforced steel.

It opened, then they took off running. Chapo was in the front — again, totally naked. The others were clothed.
The tunnel under the bathtub led to Culiacán's sewer system. It was hot and humid inside. Lucero could feel the filthy water running up her legs.

I've been inside the tunnel — it's cramped. You have to hunch over to move around. This is where they were running for their lives.
Lucero was asked to estimate how long she was running through the sewer tunnels with Chapo who was, once again, totally naked: "Long enough to traumatize me. I think it was more than an hour, I believe."
Need to write a story. More on this coming later. Stay tuned for updates.
El Capo's trial is off until Tuesday. Picking up this thread to share some of the photos and videos that were shown as evidence yesterday in court.

This is the star witness, Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez, the woman who was with Chapo during his naked tunnel escape.
This footage shows Mexican marines struggling to break through a reinforced steel door at one of El Chapo's safe houses in Culiacán.

It took them about 10 minutes at another house, buying Chapo just enough time to make his escape through the bathtub tunnel.
Here's a first-person look at the effort to break down El Chapo's reinforced steel door, shot by a DEA agent with a GoPro camera. He takes a turn with the battering ram but can't get the job done.
This is what DEA agent Victor Vazquez saw when the Mexican marines finally broke down the door and got inside Chapo's house.

He walks into the bathroom connected to the master bedroom to find the tub propped up, revealing the entrance to Chapo's hidden escape tunnel.
At another Chapo safe house, the DEA and marines forced one of Chapo's workers — a guy nicknamed Nariz or The Nose — to show them how to open the bathtub. He plugs a wire into an electrical outlet, triggering hydraulics that pop the lid to the tub, revealing a tunnel underneath.
Another video that shows the inside of the safe house where Chapo was staying when he escaped naked through the bathtub tunnel.

You can see the reinforced door and get a sense of how Chapo was living. It's nice but not super luxurious.
This shows a cache of weapons found inside one of Chapo's safe houses, including a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and his favorite pistol, which has his initials JGL — Joaquín Guzman Loera — encrusted in diamonds on the grip.
Photos of the weapons found inside one of Chapo's safe houses in Culiacán.
Photos of drugs seized at one of Chapo's safe houses. The bananas are made of plastic and stuffed with cocaine for smuggling. The other picture shows DEA agent Victor Vazquez posing with over 2,800 packages of meth.
These photos show the entrance to Chapo's bathtub escape tunnel. DEA agent Victor Vazquez is standing on stairs that lead down into the tunnel, which connects to the sewer system underneath the city of Culiacán.
After Chapo escaped naked through the bathtub, he fled to the city of Mazatlán on the coast of Sinaloa. This is the beachfront hotel where he was captured. He was with his wife Emma Coronel and infant twin daughters. His secretary Condor was also there, along with a nanny.
Last but certainly not least, here's a collection of text messages between Chapo and his mistress Lucero Sanchez. Chapo installed spyware on her phone, which kept a record of all her communications.

Here, they discuss a large marijuana shipment. documentcloud.org/documents/5688…
Story just published @vicenews.

Testimony from El Chapo's mistress destroyed the image of Chapo as the all-powerful drug lord, instead casting him as the petty villain in a telenovela.

news.vice.com/en_us/article/…
Whoa. Sidebar conversation yesterday at El Chapo's trial references DEA using 5 drones during the capture operation…
Another intriguing sidebar convo from yesterday.

Chapo's lawyer asked DEA agent Victor Vazquez being armed during the capture operation. American agents are not typically not allowed to carry weapons in Mexico. This pic clearly shows him with an assault rifle and military gear.
And then there's this, which references a pretrial motion to block questions about who exactly was in the room when Chapo was captured.

DEA agent Vazquez stated unequivocally that he remained in the lobby while Mexican marines made the actual arrest.

Who else was there?
One name that was conspicuously absent from yesterday's testimony: Drew Hogan, the DEA agent who wrote a controversial book about his hunt for Chapo and his role in the 2014 capture. We spoke to him for our podcast. open.spotify.com/episode/738NnU…
We stitched together all of the footage that was shown in court yesterday. It's really something to behold.
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