Arrest Punctuates Limbo in ‘El Chapo’ Jury Deliberations

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – The crowd waiting anxiously for jurors to return a verdict in the Brooklyn trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman received an odd surprise Thursday morning as a trial-goer was arrested in the overflow courtroom.

In this courtroom drawing, Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is seated in the courtroom as the jury deliberates drug-trafficking charges against her husband on Feb. 5, 2019, in New York. The jury began its fourth day of deliberations Thursday. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

An official familiar with the case said the suspect had a driver’s license that identified him as Rene Martinez when he entered court this morning.

Taking a seat in the row reserved for Guzman’s family and defense team, the man is said to have first claimed he was Chapo’s family, then that he was a friend of the family. Journalists who witnessed the altercation in the courtroom said the man spoke in a hostile tone, and that Guzman’s wife, Emma Coronel, had not yet entered the courtroom.

She normally sits in the defense row.

Unless they are with the U.S. government, everyone who attends the trial, either in the main or overflow courtrooms, must pass through a metal detector in the hallway, show photo identification and sign in.

U.S. marshals escorted the man from the defense row in the main courtroom to the overflow courtroom across the hall.

After law enforcement outside the courtroom checked the sign-in list for the man’s name and ran his ID, they found “multiple state open warrants” for him, the official said. 

It’s not clear what the warrants were for. The man was handcuffed and led from the overflow courtroom and will be presented in state court later today.

Guzman’s lawyers said the man had no relation to their client’s family.

Guzman, who is accused of leading Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa Cartel, faces 10 counts of conspiracy, drug trafficking and money laundering. Jury deliberations have been underway since early Monday afternoon.

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