After 25 years on the run - hiding from the army and the police, imprisoned and staging astonishingly audacious escapes – Mexico’s most infamous drug lord finally had his day in court.
Thirty minutes later, it was all over.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the $14 billion man, a short and stocky 61-year-old cartel leader sent to the US on the last day of Barack Obama’s presidency, had only one witness called to his defence.
And even that witness, an FBI agent who gave fleeting evidence about a cocaine supplier that testified for the prosecution, was reluctant.
“He didn’t set out to help me,” Guzman’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, told the court, somewhat ruefully.
On Monday the jury will retire to consider their verdict on 10 trafficking, money laundering and firearms counts, at the end of a trial which, the prosecution said, presented “an avalanche” of evidence against the man who famously escaped high security Mexican prisons not once but twice.
The trial always promised much drama. Even before it commenced in November, a wannabe Guzman lawyer held press conferences outside court, and a woman claiming to be his long-lost sister showed up. Questions swirled as to what lawyers would take on such a case. Rumours abounded about the mythical cartel leaders who could testify. A member of the jury pool had a panic attack in the waiting room, and had to be sent to the hospital in an ambulance.
Once it eventually began, it more than delivered - indeed, so great was the interest that queues formed outside the Brooklyn courthouse at 2:30am this week, in minus 14 Celsius temperatures.
It lifted the lid on the world’s most expansive drug trafficking network, the Sinaloa Cartel, in jaw-dropping detail – indeed, it is by far the biggest drug trial ever staged in the US. And every day provided bombshell after bombshell – it was, as one US network put it, a trial of “murder, mistresses and matching velvet”.
That was because when one of Guzman’s mistresses took the stand to give tearful testimony about the man she still thought was her honey, his wife, US-born beauty queen Emma Coronel, showed up in court in a maroon velvet suit matching that worn by her husband that day.
Guzman, seen in court videos in baggy jeans, polo shirts and a baseball cap, was dressed every day in smart suits.
On the first day of his trial his shirt was open to the chest, in true Scarface style, as he swaggered into the room. Perhaps the look was fitting: the original 1932 Scarface film was based on the life of Al Capone – the last man to be declared Chicago’s Public Enemy Number One, before Guzman took the title in 2013.
After a break he returned with it buttoned up – speculation was that his lawyers told him the look was not a good one – and from then on he made a point of listening intently, through his translator, and shaking hands with his team every day.
When he caught sight of 29-year-old Ms Coronel, a Kardashian look-a-like and the mother of his seven-year-old twin daughters, he would wave goofily at her.
Later on in the trial the actor who played Guzman in the current Netflix series Narcos: Mexico showed up in court, and Guzman – who famously wanted a film of his life, and whose meeting to discuss it with Sean Penn is thought to have led to his capture – waved in delight at Alejandro Edda.
“I didn’t smile back. I was just paying respect to him,” said Edda. “I was shocked in a way. He has a very intense look. His eyes say a lot. He’s a bit intimidating.”
Some of the 56 witnesses the prosecution called also avoided eye contact.
Christian Rodriguez, a terrified-looking IT expert, testified how he had given the FBI access to all Guzman’s communications. He overheard a discussion about how “Chapo’s IT guy is working for the Americans,” and promptly fled for his life – he’s been in hiding, and electroshock therapy, ever since.
Others were more defiant.
There was “Chupeta”, or Lollipop, a Colombian drug lord who has had so much plastic surgery to avoid detection that his face no longer makes sense. He admitted to 150 murders and being the main source of much of Guzman’s cocaine; at its peak, Chupeta’s operation in Columbia was sending 12 to 14 planes a night to Mexico, making Guzman an estimated $640 million.
There was Pedro Flores, Guzman’s top lieutenant in the US, who, faced with the impossible decision of choosing between Guzman or a rival cartel, took the nuclear option and went to the US authorities offering to act as an informant.
Then there was the pilot, who said he had seen rivals buried alive; a friend of the hitman, who told how Guzman ordered the murder of people in a soundproof room; the secretary, who told of the yacht, the beach houses, and the private zoo, complete with lions, tigers, and crocodiles, as well as a little train to ferry guests through it.
His legal team knew they could do little to counter the rogue’s gallery of witnesses. So they instead tried to show Guzman as but a low level operative, with “El Mayo” as the real villain. They also did their best to discredit the “proven liars” that the prosecution paraded, who Mr Lichtman described as “scum”.
Guzman himself only spoke once in the trial – telling Judge Brian Cogan on Monday, through an interpreter: “I will not testify. They counselled me about it, and I agreed.”
He faces life in prison if, as expected, he is convicted.