NEW YORK – Accused Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, facing federal charges that could put him in prison for life, has opted not to testify in his own defense.
He announced his decision in court Monday after federal prosecutors rested their case against him.
“Your honor, me and my attorneys talked about this … I will not testify,” the outwardly calm Guzmán told U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan.
“They counseled me, and I agreed with them” said Guzmán.
His wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, sitting in the second row, showed no apparent emotion.
Defense lawyer William Purpura said Guzmán’s legal team had explained to him that if he took the witness stand to tell his side, he would also be required to respond to cross-examination by prosecutors.
Prosecutors rested their case Monday more than two months into the trial. Defense lawyers then asked Cogan to direct an acquittal of Guzmán.
The judge denied the motion, ruling that the prosecutors had presented more than ample evidence to show Guzmán ran a continuing criminal enterprise that smuggled tons of cocaine, heroin, and other drugs into the United States.
The defense team has tentative plans to call just two witnesses: Federal investigators who debriefed Jorge Cifuentes, a former Guzmán associate who was among several cooperating witnesses against the alleged drug lord.
The sides are expected to present closing arguments as soon as Wednesday. The tentative schedule calls for the judge to present the jury with legal requirements for conviction on the charges against Guzmán later Thursday or on Friday.
After that, the panel of seven women and four men is expected to begin deliberating over Guzmán’s fate.