Defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, left, gives closing arguments during the trial of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in this courtroom sketch in Brooklyn federal court in New York City,  Jan. 31, 2019.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, left, gives closing arguments during the trial of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in this courtroom sketch in Brooklyn federal court in New York City, Jan. 31, 2019.

Lawyers for alleged Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman are calling the government's case "a fantasy."

Guzman is on trial in New York for 10 charges ranging from drug trafficking, money laundering, and murder when he allegedly led the Sinaloa drug cartel.

In summing up, the defense's case for the jury, attorney Jeffrey Lichtman says prosecutors failed to see what he calls the "600 pound gorilla" in the courtroom — reasonable doubt.

Lichtman told the jury the government's witnesses "lie, steal, cheat, deal drugs, and kill people."

"A house that's built on a rotten foundation won't stand for too long. We have to trust the word of these lunatics?" he asked.

Lichtman said an allegation that Guzman paid former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto a $100 million bribe to call off the manhunt for him makes no sense because the manhunt went forward.

If there were a bribe, Lichtman said it would likely have come from  the fugitive who he says is the cartel's real leader — Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada. Pena Nieto denies taking any bribes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Liskamm points at t
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Liskamm points at the accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, right, while delivering a rebuttal during the trial of Guzman in this courtroom sketch in Brooklyn federal court in New York City, Jan. 31, 2019.

In summing up their case, federal prosecutors said Wednesday  there is an "avalanche of evidence" to convict Guzman. They displayed rifles, a bulletproof vest and a brick of cocaine. They say they also have intercepted phone calls, text messages, and written letters ordering drug deals and killings. 

Prosecutors say Guzman's goal was to smuggle huge quantities of illegal drugs to the United States and make millions of dollars, saying it doesn't matter who was in charge of the cartel because Guzman was  "one of the top bosses."

Guzman was captured and extradited to the United States, two years ago after his dramatic escape from Mexican prisons.

The case will now go to the jury. If convicted, Guzman faces life behind bars.

 

 

 

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