'El Chapo' Guzman pleads not guilty in US to 17 counts

Written by: IANS
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New York, Jan 21: Drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, accused of running one of the world's largest drug trafficking organisations, entered a not guilty plea through his attorney at an arraignment on Friday in federal court in Brooklyn.

'El Chapo' Guzman pleads not guilty in US to 17 counts

The trafficker was not handcuffed and wore a dark blue short-sleeved shirt and pants with white sneakers during his brief appearance in a packed courtroom, CNN reported.

Magistrate Judge James Orenstein asked Guzman whether he understood the charges, including the operation of a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiring to murder rivals, firearms violations and money laundering.

In a low voice, the defendant replied: "Si, Señor." His arraignment in US District Court for the Eastern District of New York came one day after Guzman was quietly extradited from his native Mexico to the US.

Guzman's next court appearance was set for February 3. Although Guzman is wanted in six states, he will be prosecuted in a joint Miami-New York indictment in Brooklyn, prosecutors said on Friday in a press conference.

Guzman, 59, is named in a sweeping 17-count indictment alleging that from 1989 to 2014 he 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 US Attorney Robert Capers of the Eastern District of New York.

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.

The charges carry a minimum sentence of life in prison, Capers said. Federal prosecutors also intend to seek a $14 billion criminal forfeiture order against Guzman.

IANS

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