NEW YORK, USA – An ex-Colombian drug cartel leader confessed Thursday, November 29, to ordering the killings of 150 people and told the US trial of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman how the pair worked together to traffic drugs into the United States.
The US government turncoat, Juan Carlos "Chupeta" Ramirez, was allegedly one of Guzman's two main Colombian suppliers. Captured in Brazil, he was extradited to the United States a decade ago and is hoping to shave five years off his 25-year sentence by cooperating in the trial.
US prosecutors asked Ramirez to explain how, with Guzman's help, he exported 400 tons of cocaine to the United States from 1989 until his arrest in 2007 with his lover, a Brazilian bodybuilder.
Ramirez claimed to have personally ordered the killing of "approximately 150 people" – although claimed to have killed only one in person – and said Colombian authorities seized $1 billion in drug profits from him.
The witness said he met Guzman "more than 10 times," but that he had since undergone numerous plastic surgeries to change his features entirely – his jaw, eyes, ears, nose, lips, cheeks – while on the run.
Judge Brian Cogan warned the jury that the witness suffered from undisclosed health problems, and that breaks might be necessary. Ramirez appeared to be cold, dressed in a dark jacket and donned a pair of gloves on the stand.
He testified that for years he, as leader of the Norte del Valle cartel, was one of two main suppliers of Colombian cocaine to Guzman.
Ramirez said Guzman requested "100 percent pure cocaine of the best quality," gave him a mold to shape the drug into cylinders so that Guzman could disguise them inside cans labeled as containing jalapenos.
He told the jury that his first shipment to Guzman amounted to five planes loaded with 4000 kilos of cocaine that arrived at an airstrip near Los Mochis, in Sinaloa.
He testified about being pleased after his pilots said the runway was well lit, the unloading fast and that federal police provided full protection.
Guzman, he said, took a week to traffic the drugs into the United States compared to the month or more of his rivals, leading some to call him "El Rapido" – or the Fast One. – Rappler.com