The onetime bodyguard of a son of Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is claiming he was tortured after he was captured in 2014 — and Americans were there.
In a letter filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Jesus Raul Beltran-Leon says he was beaten, smothered with plastic bags and subjected to water torture after his capture on Nov. 16, 2014, in Culiacan, Mexico — where El Chapo’s drug empire was based.
Beltran-Leon’s lawyers are asking federal prosecutors in Chicago to turn over evidence relating to his torture claims.
Beltran-Leon’s attorneys say Mexican marines burst into his parents’ home with guns drawn and seized him and his wife, along with his infant daughter. His captors are accused of threatening to rape his wife and kill his other family members.
Beltran-Leon claims several English-speaking Americans were in the home during the raid.
His captors allegedly put plastic bags over his head, causing him to lose consciousness. They also beat him and drove him to a facility where he was dunked repeatedly into a water barrel, according to his attorneys.
Beltran-Leon’s attorneys say he was forced to admit on a video that he loaded a plane with cocaine while one of El Chapo’s sons, Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, stacked the drugs in the plane and another son, Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar, flew them from Culiacan to Chiapas, Mexico.
Beltran-Leon, 33, was a lieutenant of Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, authorities say.
While Beltran-Leon was blindfolded, a man speaking Spanish with an American accent questioned him about the whereabouts of the two sons, but Beltran-Leon replied he didn’t know anything, according to his attorneys.
Beltran-Leon claims that interrogator later said he was “with the DEA” and “went on to talk in a bragging manner that they knew about everything that went on.” Beltran-Leon says he told the man about the torture, but the man left without saying another word.
A spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration declined comment.
Beltran-Leon, a U.S. citizen, was flown to Mexico City where a government doctor examined him and found no evidence of torture, according to his lawyers. He says a U.S. embassy official visited him and he told her about the abuse but she said she could do nothing to help.
In January, he was extradited to Chicago to face charges in a 2009 indictment of El Chapo and his reputed lieutenants. That same month, El Chapo was extradited to New York where he faces a related drug case.
Mexican marines captured El Chapo last year in the Sinaloa city of La Mochis. He was on the run after breaking out of prison in Mexico in 2014.
Chicago twin brothers, Margarito and Pedro Flores, were key to the case against El Chapo and his cartel. The brothers became top drug suppliers for El Chapo but later agreed to testify against the kingpin when they were arrested by the feds. They pleaded guilty and each was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2015.