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A former top lieutenant in a feared Mexican drug cartel on Monday fingered Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera (pictured) as his former boss, and linked the accused drug lord to tons of illegal narcotics shipped into the U.S and millions of dollars in bribes for police protection. | AP file photo

‘El Chapo’ sent tons of drugs to U.S., bribed Mexican police official: witness

SHARE ‘El Chapo’ sent tons of drugs to U.S., bribed Mexican police official: witness
SHARE ‘El Chapo’ sent tons of drugs to U.S., bribed Mexican police official: witness

NEW YORK— A former top lieutenant ina feared Mexican drug cartel on Monday fingered Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera as his former boss, and linked the accused drug lord totons of illegal narcotics shippedinto the U.S and millions of dollars in bribes for police protection.

“I worked for the Sinaloa cartel,” Miguel Ángel Martíneztold federal jurors in a Brooklyn courtroom.Then he identifiedthe man he said gave him orders for movingbillions of dollars in narcotics. “I worked for Mr.Joaquín Guzmán.”

Martínezoutlined the cartel’s inner workings, testifying that Guzmán negotiated an ownership and profitssplit with Colombian drug leaders who contracted with him to flycocaine from secret South America airstrips to similar landing spots in Mexico.

Thedrugs were thensmuggledacross the Mexico-U.S. border to Los Angeles, Chicago,and New York, Martínezsaid.

The defensehas claimedthat Martínezand other cooperating government witnesses are liars who would say anything in exchange for legal leniency.

Martínezsaid he grewso closeto Guzmán from 1986 through the early 1990sthatGuzmán ultimately entrusted him to deal with the Colombian partners, arrangethe drug amounts, flightsandfuel, and directthe landings.

He even namedGuzmán the godfather to his son, he said.

Martíneztold the jury thatGuzmán, whosenicknamemeans “shorty” in Spanish, was also known as “El Rapido” and “El Arquitecto” for the swiftness and reliability of the drug deliveries to dealers in the United States.

That reliability was bought and paid for, he testified.

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Guzmán at least twice directed $10 million bribes during the late 1980s to a Mexican police commander named Guillermo González Calderon, Martínezalleged. In return, hesaid, the official helped Guzmán avoid capture.

Martínez said the cartelsought to avoid investigators by usingsecret codes. Talk ofhaving a party tonight, he said,“meant get the planes ready.”

Vino –wine–meant jet fuel.

Martínez’s appearance mean a newlevel of restrictionsto the already high-security trial.

Federal prosecutors, wary of giving Guzmán loyalists any clueabout the former insider-turned-government informant, obtaineda court order that barred courtroom sketch artists from depicting Martinez’s face or hairstyle.

Additionally, federal officers requiredGuzmán’s wife,Emma Coronel Aispuro, to go through a metal detector just before Martinez appeared because shewasspottedin court last week with a cell phone, a violation of security rules.

Martínez, who appeared virtually bald during his testimony, cut what at first glance seemed an almost grandfatherly figure, with calm, matter-of-fact descriptionsas he sat on the witness stand dressed in a dark suit and red patterned tie.

Butanswering prosecutionquestions from Assistant U.S. AttorneyMichael Robotti through a Spanish translator,herevealed the deadly menace underlying his chosenline of work.

Once, when he allowed a plane propeller to hit the ground and break on a short gravel landing strip in Mexico, Martínez said, a Guzmán bodyguard “wanted to kill me.”

Instead,Guzmán calmed the man, “said I was a really bad pilot,” and then transferred Martínez to other duties, Martínez testified.

The new assignment included opening and staffing a series of offices in Mexico City where an attorney working for Guzmán sought to broker deals with local police to overlook the drug cartel’s efforts, Martínez said.

Martínezis expected to continue his testimony on Tuesday with additional details of allegedGuzmán-directed drug shipments into the U.S.

He is the second former cartel insiderto testifyagainstGuzmán during the trial.

Last week, Jesus Zambada García, a former operations chief forGuzmán, identified his old boss and described the alleged drug cartel’s workings.

Defense attorneys are expected to cross-examine Martínez later this week.

Contributing: Associated Press

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