While negotiations over a border wall remain at an impasse in Washington, a case is unfolding in a federal district courtroom in Brooklyn that casts President Trump’s ambition in a new light. Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán stands accused of running Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, and trafficking billions of dollars’ worth of drugs into the United States. Having escaped from prison twice, Chapo – the nickname means ‘shorty’ – was arrested in Sinaloa in 2016 and extradited to the US a year later. The trial has been a masterclass in the logistics of running an illegal international organisation – in addition to its operations in the Americas, Sinaloa has a presence in more than a dozen countries in Africa and throughout Europe and Asia – and has offered a detailed insight into the way the US-Mexico border has determined the structure of one of the world’s most lucrative businesses.
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