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35 days of murder, mistresses and matching velvet blazers



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By Rich Schapiro

They heard about the time he was raided by a scurrying, naked, through a tunnel under his bathtub, his mistress trailing behind.

They are so happy that they are going to "AK-47 so they can hang with me."

And they listened as a former associate seeing him brutalize two rivals with a stick for hours, shoot each one in the head, and then order his to toss the body into a giant bonfire.

The jurors deciding the fate of notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman sat through 35 days of surreal and often outlandish testimony.

Drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted into a helicopter at Mexico City's airport, following his recapture during an intense military operation in Los Mochis, Sinaloa State on Jan. 8, 2016. Alfredo Estrella / AFP – Getty Images file

A total of 56 prosecution witnesses were sent to the stand, telling stories that at times echoed a Shakespearean drama and others detailed a Sinaloa cartel bloodbath.

The case is expected to go to the jury on Monday. Guzman, 61, is guilty of trafficking more than 440,000 pounds of cocaine, millions of dollars and conspiring to murder a rival.

Prosecutors told the jury "avalanche of evidence" proved that Guzman was lorded over a murderous drug empire.

The trial, held under unprecedented security at the federal courthouse in London, is a state of affairs Guzman's legendary ruthlessness and cunning.

There were tales of cold-blooded murders, lessons on how the cartel waterproofed cocaine packages and cinematic descriptions of how he narrowly escaped police dragnets. [19659009Thewitnesses'nicknames-LollipopTheFatOneTheGodfather-wereinsomecasesascolorfulasthetestimonyitself

One of them, a longtime Guzman bodyguard known as "Memín," described his boss end a man's life in especially gruesome fashion.

The rival cartel member was first tortured for days, the witness said, burned with a clothing ut the smell.

"He was pretty much decomposing," said the former bodyguard, whose real name is Isaias Valde Rios.

Guzman ordered his man to dig a grave. Sinaloa cartel leader, Rios said.

Guzman yelled at the man, grabbed a gun and shot him, Rios said. Rios said.

The Colombian cocaine kingpin Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía walked up to the stand to testify against Guzman.

Colombian drug lord Juan Carlos "Chupeta" Ramirez Abadia had plastic surgery to his ace as seen in this before, left, and after, right, photo combination released by the Department of Justice on Nov. 29, 2018. Department of Justice / Brooklyn Federal Court / AFP – Getty Images

There was a testimony of audacious missions to salvage sunken parcels of cocaine – and multi-million dollar political payoffs.

In one of the more headline-grabbing days of testimony, Guzman's personal secretary a $ 100 million bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (Peña Nieto denied it).

Guzman was sent to his wife for the indignity of seeing his wife 2012, he sent a message to his girlfriend, asking for drug sales were going. "Oh, like busy bees," replied the woman, Agustina Cabanillas Acosta. "Nonstop, my love."

Minutes later, prosecutors revealed a text message Acosta sent to a friend, revealing that she knew he was likely to be spying on her. "I'm way smarter than him," she wrote.

Over its nearly three months, the trial drew a steady pack of reporters and some celebrity spectators. Alejandro Edda, The actor who plays Guzman on the Netflix series "Narcos: Mexico," walked into the courtroom.

Edda later told reporters that being close to Guzman made "his hands sweaty" and his "heart beat fast."

Guzman's former beauty-queen wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, added a layer of drama to the case without saying a word. Days after Guzman's mistress took the stand in court, with a view to sartorial solidarity.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, left, listens as attorney Michelle Learned answers from reporters outside the US Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn after a hearing in the case of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman on Feb. 3, 2017 in New York. Don Emmert / AFP – Getty Images file

It took federal prosecutors 11 weeks to present their case. The defense rested after 30 minutes.

Guzman spoke aloud only once, when he politely told the judge he was not voting to testify in his own defense.

"Señor judge, me and my attorneys have spoken about this," Guzman said, "And I will reserve."

Rich Schapiro

Rich Schapiro is a reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

Emily Berk contributed.


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