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Chapo trial news:
Emma Coronel, the kingpin's wife, was neck deep in helping him in escape prison in 2015 thru a tunnel dug into the shower of his cell. She brought messages from him to his allies on how to do it & may have snuck a GPS in watch to him that guided the diggers.
Emma was--again--in the courtroom as this testimony was delivered by Damaso Lopez Nunez, one of Chapo's close aides. Emma--again--was stone still and silent.
But this is the most damaging testimony against her yet, implicating her clearly in crimes. She has not been charged.
It all started in May or June 2014, Damaso, when Emma started visiting Chapo at the Altiplano prison following his Feb 2014 capture in Mazatlan. She met w/Damaso and Chapo's son, Ivan, Alfredo and Ovidio to deliver the kingpin's orders.
The plan:
The sons were to buy a plot of land near the prison & a watch w/a GPS locator that would pinpoint Chapo's location. The trick was getting the watch to Chapo. Damaso never said how that happened but only Emma was mentioned as having visited him in prison.
The day of the escape, 7/11/2015, Chapo went into the tunnel, dug into the shower of his cell. A motorcycle w/a driver was waiting at the bottom. Chapo was sped thru the tunnel to his son's land. From there, Damaso said, he rode an ATV to a warehouse. Later, he flew to Sinaloa.
Damaso implicated Emma in another prison break attempt which took place after Chapo was re-captured (re-re-captured?) in January 2016. Chapo was sent back to Altiplano prison and the plan was to repeat the nearby-land-tunnel trick. But then he moved to a different prison.
Damaso said he met with Emma in 2/2016 and Emma told him that Chapo was working on getting back to Altiplano from the new prison in Ciudad Juarez. How? Emma said he had paid a $2 million bribe to the chief of Mexico's prison system.
Who paid the bribe? We don't know.
But it's remarkable that Chapo's wife, sitting in a federal courtroom watching all of this, has been placed in the very heart of two prison break conspiracies.
Before Damaso dropped the bomb(s) about Emma he took the jury thru letters that Chapo wrote him from prison. They provided a fascinating glimpse into how the drug lord ran his business.
Chapo tells Damaso to make sure in his absence that the sicarios & their widows get paid (wives of dead gunmen apparently got stipends.) He checks up on the progress of their synthetic heroin project and reminds Damaso to pay rents on the front companies in Europe.
"Crop duster should be started and flown so it doesn't get ruined," Chapo writes. There are also cryptic orders clearly in code which were never explained.
"Go easy on the thing with the three intellectuals."
Back to the Emma prison break conspiracies for a moment:
Neither Chapo's lawyers nor the United States attorney's office in Brooklyn are commenting about the situation.
Clearly, though, this week has been Emma Coronel week at the trial.
Yesterday, as Chapo's mistress took the witness stand in drab blue prison garb, Emma showed up in court wearing a garnet velvet smoking jacket that just so happened to exactly match the one Chapo was wearing.
The testimony about her rolein the prison break wasn't the first she seems to have abetted Chapo's crimes. Two weeks ago the govt introduced text messages between her & Chapo. In one, she hands her phone to her father who proceeds to conduct serious narco business with Chapo.
(The father, Inés Coronel Barreras, is himself a convicted drug trafficker.)
The text messages also showed that she at the very least abetted Chapo's escape from a joint FBI-Mexican raid in 2012 at a safe house in Los Cabos.
The messages also show the couple discussing a plan to put their new house--4 bedrooms, high ceilings--into the names of the twin daughters who were babies at the time.
To wrap the day Damaso was asked on cross examination about a gesture he gave Chapo when he took the stand. He patted his heart with his hand. When asked why he did it, Damaso said, "I love him." So why was he testifying against Chapo? "Circumstances have placed me in this spot."
Many of the witnesses have had similar gestural exchanges w/Chapo.
When Jorge Cifuentes, a Colombian ally, walked past the kingpin leaving the courtroom, he crossed both his arms over his chest and pumped them back and forth.
Vicente Zambada Niebla--the cartel prince and son of Chapo's partner, Ismael Zambada--gave Chapo a kind of smug winking smirk from the stand. Jorge Cifuentes' brother, Alex, nodded solemnly at Chapo as if to say, "This is how it ends, old friend."
It reached the point where Judge Cogan recently stepped in & asked the prosecutors to tell their witnesses to stop.
The one witness they didn't have to worry about was the young IT guy who betrayed Chapo, Christian Rodriguez. He walked out of the courtroom avoiding Chapo's gaze.
At final count, it's looking like the government will have called a staggering 54 witnesses in the Chapo trial when it finally rests its case tomorrow or Monday.
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