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Jurors in 'El Chapo' trial finish second day of deliberations

Jurors in 'El Chapo' trial finish second day of deliberations
Members of the media gather in front of the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn on Tuesday during the trial of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. (Angela Weiss / AFP/Getty Images)

Jurors in the federal trial of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman are not rushing through their deliberations.

The seven women and five men charged with deciding the fate of the notorious drug kingpin spent their second day hashing out the slew of drug, firearm, murder conspiracy and money laundering charges against him.

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Prosecutors had presented mountains of evidence in the sweeping 12-week case, much based on the testimony of Guzman's former cartel higher-ups, who exchanged testimony for hopes of reducing their own prison sentences.

At about 1:30 p.m., after eating lunch, the jurors had several requests for the judge: They wanted the full testimony of two key cooperating witnesses, Alex and Jorge Cifuentes, brothers from one of Colombia's most powerful narco-trafficking families, who were Guzman's close associates for years.

The brothers detailed how the cartel smuggled tons of cocaine, meth and marijuana to the U.S. They also testified that widespread corruption of Mexican officials helped their illicit trade.

Their testimonies would have taken several days to be read back to jurors, so U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan decided they'd get the written transcript. That too, however, would take some time; objections and lawyers' sidebars with the judge would need to be redacted.

Another granted request was for a portion of testimony from a different cooperating witness and a intercepted phone call with Guzman, both related to the cartel’s purchases of ephedrine and the trafficking of the drug it is used to make: methamphetamine.

Joaquin Guzman is transported through an airport on Long Island, N.Y., on Jan. 19, 2017, after extradition from Mexico.
Joaquin Guzman is transported through an airport on Long Island, N.Y., on Jan. 19, 2017, after extradition from Mexico. (Attorney General of the Republic of Mexico / Prensa Internacional)

Yesterday, on their first day of deliberations, jurors asked the judge another meth-related question: They wondered if ephedrine should be considered methamphetamine. The judge told them they’d have to decide that based on the evidence.

The infamous 61-year-old Guzman is charged with 10 criminal counts, covering accusations that he sold and manufactured hundreds of tons of cocaine, meth and heroin; conspired to murder a slew of rivals; and helped run one of the world’s largest international drug networks.

But the charges are complicated; each one includes a variety of violations.

It seems the jury may be debating the meth manufacturing charge, which is part of Count 2.

Guzman, who faces life in prison, seemed calm in court, waving and smiling at his wife, 29-year-old Emma Coronel, as he regularly did throughout the trial.

Though jurors can stay as late as they wish to deliberate, they once again asked to go home at 4:15 p.m. — the time they would usually end on trial days.

Jurors are expected back at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn at 9:30 a.m.

Plagianos is a special correspondent.

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