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'El Chapo' lieutenant wants trial in Chicago

A reputed lieutenant of captured drug lord El Chapo Guzman reversed direction and will not plead guilty in a billion-dollar federal conspiracy case.
March 6, 2014 10:00:00 PM PST
A reputed lieutenant of captured drug lord El Chapo Guzman reversed direction and will not plead guilty in a billion-dollar federal conspiracy case. Alfredo Vasquez Hernandez is charged in Chicago with Guzman and nine others.

The attorney for Alfredo Vasquez Hernandez announced last week that Hernandez was going to enter a guilty plea. We reported that by pleading guilty Hernandez was turning against his co-defendant El Chapo Guzman-currently in custody in Mexico.

Now that guilty plea is scrapped.

Friday afternoon in Chicago district court Hernandez' lawyer said there had been a change-in-plans. He would no longer plead guilty and told the judge it was the I-Team report that caused him to change his mind.

"The rumors still persist that Alfredo is cooperating. It's not true, he's not going to testify against anybody, he's not going to enter into any agreement with the government," said Hernandez attorney Paul Brayman.

The I-Team never reported that Alfredo Hernandez was cooperating against El Chapo or that he was going to testify against El Chapo.

But in court Friday Hernandez' attorney contended that the I-Team report caused rumors here at the federal lock-up and in Mexico. He blamed the I-Team for putting Hernandez family in Mexico at risk-by our reporting that the guilty plea meant Hernandez was turning against his alleged boss.

But after court today the lawyer admitted there have been no actual threats.

"He heard about the rumors going throughout Mexico that he was cooperating and what do you do at that point, there's no solid information but his wife and children are trying to be unavailable at this point and hopefully they will be safe," Brayman said.

With that Hernandez' lawyer rescinded the offer of a guilty plea and asked for a bench trial, that Judge Ruben Castillo denied.

The case will go forward in front of a jury beginning May 12, with Hernandez standing trial on conspiracy.

"He's not cooperating, had no plans to cooperate in the future, has no plans to testify against anybody or enter into a plea agreement with the government," said Brayman.

Federal authorities say Hernandez was hand-picked by El Chapo Guzman to supervise the logistics of drug shipments from Mexico to Chicago and beyond and were responsible for 80 percent of the illegal drugs sold in Chicago.

According to investigators their Sinaloa Cartel used cargo planes, speed boats and even a submarine to move their inventory.


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