Lawyers argue ‘El Chapo’ wasn’t a leader in the Sinaloa Cartel

June 26 (UPI) — Lawyers for accused drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman demanded the government release evidence indicating he was actually not in charge of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel.

Guzman’s lead attorney, Eduardo Balarezo, argued the government was withholding pieces of evidence which “specifically indicate that Mr. Guzman was not the leader, nor a leader, of the so-called Sinaloa Cartel or some other drug-trafficking organization” but was instead a “middle manager.”

“What they have given us so far is information that they have had in their possession for a long time which said that Mr. Guzman was not a leader, was working under other people, was not the head of the Sinaloa cartel,” Balarezo said.

Guzman was charged with overseeing a “continuing criminal enterprise” among other allegations. Blarezo said the government sent him a bullet-pointed list of possibly exonerating information about Guzman on June 4, including material detailing his “relative standing” among other drug dealers.

The government said the evidence described in the list was unreliable because it relied on “various layers of hearsay.”

Prosecutors also said government lawyers were only required to prove Guzman supervised five or more people.

“Whether he was equally powerful or more powerful does not negate his role,” chief prosecutor Andrea Goldbarg said.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan requested Balarezo submit a filing by midnight Tuesday explaining why the evidence was necessary for Guzman to mount his defense.

“If your evidence showed at trial that he was a middle manager, that would satisfy your burden, in your view?” Cogan said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Cogan also considered Balarezo’s request to move Guzman’s Sept. 5 trial from Brooklyn, arguing the traffic and resulting spectacle when officials close the Brooklyn Bridge for his motorcade to travel from Manhattan to Brooklyn could prejudice potential jurors.

Balarezo suggested holding the trial in Manhattan, where the jail is a short walk from one federal courthouse and connected by a tunnel to another.

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