Drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has hired a defense lawyer who successfully represented the son of convicted mobster John Gotti.
The reputed head of the Sinaloa Cartel has retained attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, the lawyer confirmed. Lichtman represented John Gotti Jr. in a 2005 federal trial which ended with the dismissal of murder conspiracy charges.
Guzman, who is accused of running one of the world’s largest drug trafficking organizations, had been represented by court-appointed public defenders since his extradition from Mexico to New York in January.
The 59-year-old faces six separate indictments across the United States, alleging he brought in billions in drugs to the country and laundered profits back to Mexico.
The charges carry a minimum sentence of life in prison if convicted, according to prosecutors.
In New York, he is named in a sweeping 17-count indictment alleging that from 1989 to 2014, Guzman led a continuing criminal enterprise responsible for importing and distributing massive amounts of narcotics and conspiring to murder rivals who posed a threat, according to federal prosecutors.
Guzman is also charged with firearm violations related to drug trafficking and money laundering connected to the smuggling from the United States to Mexico of more than $14 billion in cash from narcotics sales.
Guzman and other cartel leaders were indicted in 2009 in US District Court in Brooklyn on charges of conspiring to import more than 264,000 pounds of cocaine into the United States between 1990 and 2005. The alleged traffickers are accused of sharing drug transportation routes and obtaining their drugs from Colombian drug organizations.
The next hearing in the case against Guzman is scheduled for Monday morning.