‘El Chapo’ consort opens up at US trial about cartels’ ruthlessness

NEW YORK (AP) – A key government witness at the United States (US) trial of notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman spelled out the bloodshed and other cold realities of international drug-trafficking on Tuesday without expressing regret or making excuses.

Former Colombian kingpin Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia was asked on cross-examination by a lawyer for Guzman whether he ordered scores of murders, whether he kept a ledger that showed how much hit men were paid, and whether he repeatedly lied to and bribed Colombian authorities with tens of millions of dollars to stay in business.

Among the matter-of-fact answers he gave through a Spanish interpreter: “Totally correct”, “Obviously”, “At the time, of course I lied” and “That’s how it was, sir.”

The testimony by Ramirez Abadia, known for radically altering his face through plastic surgery, came during the third week of the trial in federal court in Brooklyn.

Guzman’s lawyers say the witness is part of a crew of low-life cooperators who are framing their client to get breaks in their own drug-trafficking cases.

Ramirez Abadia testified how his Norte del Valle cartel used a fleet of planes and boats to ship tons of cocaine to Mexico, where the Sinaloa cartel was tasked with smuggling it into the US under the direction of Guzman and others.

Prosecutors say the massive amounts of drugs and cash flowing back and forth across the US border in the 1990s and early 2000s were documented in ledgers that looked like mundane business records.

Undated photos provided by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York shows former Colombian drug lord Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia. – AP