'El Chapo' Guzman making desperate play to get out of prison

ByChuck Goudie via WLS logo
Friday, October 21, 2022
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This is an uphill battle for El Chapo. The man nicknamed "Shorty" is trying to convince a court he was wronged by U.S. prosecutors in his racketeering conspiracy case.

CHICAGO -- The world's richest and most notorious drug lord, known as Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, is responsible for flooding tons of illicit drugs into Chicago over the decades. Now, he is asking to have his life sentence vacated.

This is an uphill battle for El Chapo. The man nicknamed "Shorty" is trying to convince a court he was wronged by U.S. prosecutors in his racketeering conspiracy case.

READ MORE | Sentencing mysteriously delayed for 'El Chapo' Guzman's wife

The firefight that brought down El Chapo happened almost nine years ago, when Mexican commandos barged into his beachfront hotel room. At the time, Chapo was wanted in Chicago on federal charges, and under indictment in several other U.S. cities.

He eventually was extradited to Brooklyn, New York, in what some considered a preferential power play by the then U.S. Attorney General, who once worked there.

After conviction, Chapo was sent to the airtight SuperMax prison in Colorado to serve a life sentence. From there, the drug kingpin has filed a new court request asking to be freed or retried. The document is oddly signed by El Chapo Guzman himself, and not an attorney.

READ MORE | Pedro Flores, star witness against El Chapo, tells judge feds gave wife immunity against prosecution

"Presumably he's got some advice behind the scenes. But yeah, on the face of it, he's applying for it himself," said former federal prosecutor and ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer.

He has reviewed Chapo's filing for the I-Team and says it is a fairly standard Habeas Corpus petition that rips his defense attorneys, claims unfair extradition by the U.S. and unconstitutional treatment by prosecutors.

"What he's seeking is another bite at the apple. He lost his trial, he lost on appeal, but this is a mechanism for him to say, despite all that, I'm still entitled to a reversal of my conviction and a new trial, because my constitutional rights were violated," said Soffer. "The challenge he has seen in this case, as any defendant's challenge in a similar Habeas Corpus petition, he has to show that his constitutional rights were violated and that the outcome of his trial would have been different if they hadn't been violated. And that is a very high hurdle to clear."

El Chapo's uphill battle may not be void of legal assistance, according to former assistant U.S. Attorney Soffer. But the trick bag for this drug lord is that he supposedly surrendered all his illicit wealth to the government. Paying a big legal tab from an offshore account might raise a few suspicions.