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El Chapo’s Captured Rivals And Spurned Lieutenants Are Lining Up To Testify Against Him

Photo: REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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The U.S. Department of Justice is compiling a list of narcos, ranging from competitors to former employees, to testify against El Chapo, according to documents obtained by the EFE news agency Thursday.

Witnesses-to-be against the infamous cartel kingpin are a combination of cartel operatives behind bars and people living under the witness protection program. The Justice Department is preparing this list of witnesses in the likely event El Chapo is extradited to the U.S.

Former Sinaloa cartel lieutenants, twin brothers Pedro and Margarito Flores, are expected to confront El Chapo in court. The Flores brothers ran a major portion of the Sinaloa Cartel out of Chicago, but became DEA informants in 2008 in exchange for not getting life behind bars. They are now in the witness protection program, according to Univision.

Former rival, Alfredo Beltran Leyva of the Beltran Leyva Organization, will also likely testify against the Sinaloa Cartel boss. Beltran Leyva was extradited to the U.S. in 2014 after getting arrested in Mexico back in 2008.

Before his arrest, Beltran Leyva was a key lieutenant in El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel. His two brothers believed that El Chapo gave up their Beltran Leyva to the Mexican Federales, so they formed their own cartel, the Beltran Leyva Organization.

One of the Flores brothers, Margarito, testified against Beltran Leyva in February during his trial in Washington, D.C. As things stand, Beltran Leyva will likely end up spending life behind bars unless he cooperates with the Justice Department and testifies against El Chapo.

American citizen and former senior Sinaloa Cartel and Beltran Leyva Organization operative Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez-Villareal could also save himself from a lifetime in prison if he testifies against El Chapo. La Barbie got his nickname for his blonde hair and for playing high school football in Laredo, Texas. La Barbie is one of the few Americans to climb the ranks of a Mexican cartel, but pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges in an Atlanta federal court in January.

El Chapo will likely be tried by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The Brooklyn courthouse is connected via underground tunnel to a prison where the cartel kingpin would be held — which could pose a problem to keeping El Chapo contained, considering his familiarity with tunnels.

The death penalty is off the table for the drug lord as a condition of his extradition to the U.S.

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