February 22, 2019 / 7:19 PM / 6 months ago

'El Chapo' to seek new trial after juror admits breaking rules

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Convicted Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman intends to seek a new trial after one of the jurors who convicted him told Vice News that jurors read media about the case despite the judge’s instructions not to, a lawyer for Guzman said in a court filing on Friday.

FILE PHOTO - Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by soldiers during a presentation in Mexico City, January 8, 2016. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo/File Photo

“Mr. Guzman intends to file motion for a new trial based on the disclosures in the article and to request an evidentiary hearing to determine the extent of the misconduct,” lawyer Eduardo Balarezo said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, who presided over the trial in Brooklyn federal court.

Normally, a motion for a new trial must be filed within 14 days of a verdict, putting the deadline next Tuesday. Balarezo asked for an additional 30 days to file the motion.

A spokesman for the prosecutors declined to comment.

Guzman was found guilty on Feb. 12 of running a continuing criminal enterprise as leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, along with drug trafficking, weapons and money laundering conspiracy charges. He faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison, with no possibility of parole.

Cogan had instructed jurors not to read media coverage of the case or discuss it with one another at the end of every day of Guzman’s nearly three-month trial.

Nonetheless, an anonymous juror in an interview with Vice News published on Wednesday said that he or she and multiple other jurors routinely looked at Twitter posts from journalists covering the case.

The juror said that multiple jurors lied when Cogan asked them directly whether they had read specific media reports related to the case, according to Vice News.

As part of the extraordinary security measures surrounding the trial, the jurors were brought to and from court each day by armed U.S. marshals, and their names were never made public. Prosecutors said those measures were necessary because of Guzman’s history of intimidating witnesses.

Guzman twice escaped from prison in Mexico before his final capture in January 2016. He was extradited to the United States in January 2017.

The Sinaloa Cartel, which became one of the world’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the 1990s and 2000s, still has the biggest U.S. distribution presence of Mexican cartels, followed by the fast-growing Jalisco New Generation Cartel, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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