El Chapo defense presents its case, rests after half-hour

The defense rested its case Tuesday in the trial of the accused drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman -- after just about 30 minutes and only one witness.

By contrast, the prosecution questioned a staggering 56 witnesses over the course of 10 weeks.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman had one goal, to cast doubt on the testimonies given by two of the main cooperating witnesses against the defendant: the brothers Jorge and Alex Cifuentes.

So, he called in FBI Special Agent Paul Roberts, who hasn’t been involved directly in this case, but who in February 2017 happened to interview Jorge Cifuentes Villa. Cifuentes is said to have been one of Guzman’s cocaine suppliers in Colombia, with a family that's been in the drug business for decades.

Guzman stred at the witness in the courtroom.

Roberts testified that he interviewed Cifuentes for “a couple hours.” He told him that in October 2010, he had received a visit from a U.S. naval intelligence officer who had showed him a USB drive containing material, including recordings gathered against himself, his family and Chapo.


Lichtman tried to get the FBI agent to say he was surprised to hear about a “crooked” American official, but between the hesitations of the witness and the objections sustained by the judge, the attorneys’ effort was pointless. In fact, Lichtman argued with his own witness, leading Judge Brian Cogan to remind him he was not under cross-examination.

After the witness was dismissed,  Lichtman went on to read a stipulation from another witness who couldn’t make it to court. This statement acknowledged that Special Agent Patrick Guidelson interviewed Alex Cifuentes and that he indicated Guzman had a $20 million debt between 2007 and 2013.

“With that, defense rests,” added Lichtman.


Closing arguments for prosecution and defense are set to take place Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. The defense will then have its last shot at trying to convince the 12 jurors of Guzman’s innocence.

From Day 1 of this trial, the defense has tried to sell Guzman as a patsy for El Mayo Zambada’s crimes and suggesting that his partner conspired against him with the Mexican government and possibly the U.S. government.