'El Chapo' Guzman hires John Gotti Jr's
lawyer in U.S. case
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[August 09, 2017]
By Brendan Pierson
(Reuters) - Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the
captured leader of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, has hired a New York
lawyer best known for successfully defending the son of convicted mafia
boss John Gotti to represent him in his U.S. criminal case.
The lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, said in an email on Tuesday that Guzman
hired him, along with three others: Marc Fernich, who has also
represented Gotti's son, John Gotti, Jr; William Purpura, who
represented Baltimore drug kingpin Richard Wilford; and Eduardo
Balarezo, who represented Alfredo Beltran Leyva, head of another Mexican
Wilford and Beltran Leyva were both convicted and received long prison
Guzman, 60, is charged with running a massive transnational cocaine,
heroin and methamphetamine smuggling operation, playing a key role in
Mexico's decade-long drug war that has killed over 100,000 people. He
was captured in Mexico in January 2016, six months after escaping from a
high-security prison in central Mexico through a tunnel.
Guzman was extradited to the United States on Jan. 19 to face drug,
firearms and conspiracy charges that could put him in prison for life if
he is convicted. U.S. prosecutors have said they have more than 40
witnesses ready to testify against him.
Lichtman said it was too early to say what his legal strategy might be.
"But we simply hope to have the chance to give Mr. Guzman a zealous
defense and the chance to challenge the numerous cooperating criminals
who will all be seeking to use him as their Get Out of Jail Free cards,"
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Mexico's top drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted as he
arrives at Long Island MacArthur airport in New York, U.S., January
19, 2017, after his extradition from Mexico. U.S. officials/Handout
Guzman's newly hired lawyers have not yet appeared in court. In a
letter filed in court on Monday, the public defenders who have been
representing Guzman so far said the new lawyers wanted assurances
that prosecutors would not try to seize their legal fees. Lichtman
said Tuesday that issue had not yet been resolved.
Last week, Guzman's public defenders moved to dismiss the charges on
the grounds that he should not have been sent to New York, because
Mexican authorities were told he was being arrested on charges filed
in California and Texas.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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