Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has hired a team of top defense lawyers in his fight against a US criminal case.
The team includes Jeffrey Lichtman and Marc Fernich, best known for their successful defense of the son of New York mafia boss John Gotti.
The Mexican drug lord has pleaded not guilty to charges that he ran the world’s largest drug-trafficking organization.
El Chapo Guzman, 60, faces life in a US prison if convicted.
He escaped twice from prison in Mexico, once in a laundry basket and later through a tunnel in a prison cell.
El Chapo Guzman was extradited to the US in January and is being held in a maximum security prison in New York.
Jeffrey Lichtman confirmed in an email on August 8 that El Chapo Guzman had hired him along with Marc Fernich, William Purpura and Eduardo Balarezo.
The lawyer said it was too early to speculate on a defense strategy.
“We simply hope to have the chance to give Mr. Guzman a zealous defense and the chance to challenge the numerous co-operating criminals who will all be seeking to use him as their Get Out of Jail Free cards,” Jeffrey Lichtman said.
The new lawyers are reported to be seeking assurances that prosecutors would not try to seize their legal fees as part of a $14 billion forfeiture they are seeking from El Chapo Guzman’s alleged profits from the drugs trade.
El Chapo Guzman is due to go on trial next April accused of running the notorious Sinaloa cartel.
Jeffrey Lichtman and Marc Fernich successfully defended John Gotti Jr. – son of the so-called “Dapper Don”.
Over the course of five years, juries in four trials failed to reach a verdict against John Gotti Junior on charges of murder and racketeering. Prosecutors gave up their case against him in 2010.