A former top lieutenant to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán testified Wednesday that the ex-Sinaloa Cartel boss’s sons murdered Javier Valdez, a Sinaloa journalist who covered drug trafficking.
Dámaso López Núñez made the accusation under cross-examination by Guzmán’s lawyers. It had previously been thought that López’s son, Dámaso López Serrano, might have been responsible for the reporter’s death.
According to López, Valdez was killed after publishing an interview with López himself in which he revealed cartel infighting, evoking the displeasure of Guzmán’s sons. Valdez’s newspaper, Río Doce, had previously published a story that implicated López in an attack on El Chapo’s sons, which had prompted López to go on record.
When questioned further about his son’s rumored involvement in the journalist’s killing, he rejected the accusation. “Everyone in Culiacán [Sinaloa] knew El Chapo’s sons had threatened Valdez.”
Guzmán has fathered at least 15 children but López did not specify which had murdered Valdez. Four sons are believed to be involved in the family business — Iván, Alfredo, Ovidio and Joaquín. López, who has showed affection for Guzmán throughout his testimony, said that his former boss might not have known that his sons had murdered the reporter.
The witness met Guzmán when he was the director of security at a Jalisco maximum security prison in which the former drug lord was being held. He later quit his and job and went to work for the cartel, where he quickly climbed the ranks.
He was arrested in 2017 and extradited to the United States, where he was sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking. He is testifying for the prosecution at Guzmán’s trial with the hope of having his sentence reduced.
In other testimony, he said Guzmán’s wife played a key role in planning her husband’s prison escape in 2015. López said he and Emma Coronel, who passed messages to and from Guzmán, worked with the latter’s sons to plan the escape.
They bought a piece of land near the Altiplano prison in México state and dug a 1.5-kilometer tunnel to the prison, through which Guzmán made his getaway.
López’s former boss is now on trial in New York for drug trafficking, conspiracy, money laundering and weapons offenses.
When he took the stand on Tuesday, he looked at Guzmán and bumped his chest with his fist. Asked later by one of Guzmán’s lawyers why he had done it, he said, “Because I love him.”