By Alan Feuer
Prosecutors at the trial of the drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera spent more than 10 weeks painting the kingpin as the most despicable sort of criminal. Mr. Guzmán, known as El Chapo, trafficked tons of drugs, bribed nearly everyone of authority in Mexico and once ordered his henchmen to incinerate the bodies of two of his enemies in a bonfire, they said.
But on Friday night, two days before jurors were set to begin deliberations, the prosecutors unsealed secret documents revealing a series of even more shocking claims against Mr. Guzmán. The most disturbing were accusations that the crime lord once raped one of his mistresses and routinely raped girls as young as 13 years old, sometimes drugging them by placing “a powdery substance” into their drinks.
Mr. Guzmán’s lawyer, A. Eduardo Balarezo, immediately discounted the accusations, issuing a statement on Saturday that said: “Joaquin denies the allegations.”
In the statement, Mr. Balarezo noted that the claims “lack any corroboration and were deemed too prejudicial and unreliable to be admitted at trial.” He added: “It is unfortunate that the material was publicly released just prior to the jury beginning deliberations.”
The timing of the documents’ release was set on Jan. 23 when Judge Brian M. Cogan issued an order signing off on a schedule that was initially proposed in a joint submission by the defense and prosecution. Judge Cogan’s order came in response to letters from The New York Times and Vice Media complaining about the pervasive secrecy in the case.
The unsealed documents said the claims that Mr. Guzmán raped underage girls came from one of his former personal secretaries, Alex Cifuentes Villa, who testified at the trial that he lived with the crime lord in rural camps in the Sierra Madre mountains while hiding from the Mexican authorities. According to Mr. Cifuentes, a woman known only as “Comadre Maria” regularly sent Mr. Guzmán photographs of girls as young as 13 for him to choose from. For a $5,000 fee, Mr. Cifuentes said, the kingpin and members of his entourage — including Mr. Cifuentes — often had the girls brought into the mountains to rape them.
Mr. Guzmán considered the youngest of the girls to be “his vitamins” because raping them gave him “life,” according to the documents.
Mr. Cifuentes had previously mentioned a “Comadre Maria” during his testimony at the trial. On Jan. 15, he told jurors that a woman named “Comadre Maria” had also served as the kingpin’s intermediary when he allegedly paid a $100 million bribe to the former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto.
The documents also contained a cryptic reference to Mr. Guzmán committing another rape. In the documents, prosecutors noted that Judge Cogan had kept from the trial evidence that the crime lord had sexually assaulted a cooperating witness in the case before “beginning a romantic relationship with her and drawing her into his criminal enterprise.”
The documents did not identify the witness, but the only female cooperator who testified against Mr. Guzmán was his former lover, Lucero Guadalupe Sánchez López. In an emotional turn on the stand, Ms. Sánchez told jurors how in 2014 the crime lord escaped with her — naked — into a tunnel hidden under a bathtub when the Mexican marines were at the front door of his safe house.
The documents also contained information about Mr. Cifuentes.
They said, for instance, that he once had an argument with his wife because he had “sexually harassed” their babysitter. They also said that Mr. Cifuentes once obtained “snake oil” from a witch doctor and was interested in “the Illuminati, Freemasonry, other planets, other galaxies, UFOs and the idea that there was an impending apocalypse in 2012.”
How did Mr. Cifuentes come by such interests?
“From internet videos and the Discovery Channel,” the documents said.