Poor Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. The fearsome Sinaloa cartel leader and notorious tunnel-god is languishing in a Manhattan jail that’s “worse than Guantanamo,” and his top lieutenant was arrested earlier this week. The whole empire may soon come crumbling down, all because Sean Penn led authorities to his whereabouts while farting next to him. Now, El Chapo is having one heck of a time finding a (fancy) lawyer for various reasons, and the likelihood of him securing one doesn’t sound good.
El Chapo is currently being represented by public defenders, but he’d like a private attorney, since he’s facing life in prison if convicted of the many crimes against him. He has pleaded not guilty despite the staggering amount of evidence that prosecutors have gathered, including acts of torture and assassination, through which he directed his cartel to move his drug supply.
NBC News reports that El Chapo has met with at least 16 lawyers this year, but he hasn’t hired any of them. While there’s no official reason listed as to why this hasn’t happened, one attorney — Richard Levitt — who was summoned to meet with El Chapo says that he can’t reveal much, but there may be a big money problem:
Levitt would not talk about anything he and Guzman discussed but said whoever gets the case will face big challenges, including the question of getting paid.
“The government may be taking the position that any money paid for a lawyer is tainted,” Levitt said, explaining that Guzman would then have to show that any funds used for legal fees, whether from him or a benefactor, does not come from a criminal enterprise.
As for the question of El Chapo finding a private attorney who’d go pro bono, he’d have to find someone who wanted the publicity (which would not be good exposure) because — as Attorney Steven Brounstein pointed out to NBC News, “It would take an immense amount of resources to represent this guy.” To complicate matters, no one seems to know where El Chapo’s money is, and the U.S. government admits that they haven’t found even “one dollar” to his name. Well, the dude operated off the grid for so long that this was bound to happen, but perhaps they should check one of his tunnels?
This news also throws a wrench into Ted Cruz’s master plan to have El Chapo’s drug money pay for the Wall. However, there’s one thing that El Chapo may be happy about. He’s finally allowed to communicate with his beauty-pageant winning wife again through pre-taped video messages. Love is not dead.