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Alleged key figure in Sinaloa drug cartel to plead guilty, lawyer says

Mexican drug trafficker JoaquGuzman Loerak'el Chapo Guzman' is escorted by marines as he is presented press February 22 2014 Mexico

Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin Guzman Loera aka "el Chapo Guzman", is escorted by marines as he is presented to the press on February 22, 2014 in Mexico City. The Sinaloa cartel leader - the most wanted by US and Mexican anti-drug agencies - was arrested early this morning by Mexican marines at a resort in Mazatlan, northern Mexico. AFP PHOTO/Alfredo EstrellaALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images

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Updated: March 28, 2014 8:48AM



One of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s alleged key lieutenants in the Sinaloa cartel plans to plead guilty in Chicago’s federal court next week, his attorney said.

Alfredo Vasquez Hernandez — who allegedly coordinated shipments of tons of cocaine into Mexico and multiple kilos into the U.S. — has made no deal with prosecutors but intends to plead guilty on March 7, his attorney Paul Brayman said Wednesday.

Brayman said Hernandez’s planned change of plea is unrelated to the weekend’s high-profile arrest in Mexico of Guzman, the Sinaloa cartel boss who was until Saturday the world’s most wanted fugitive.

But he told U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo that Hernandez, who went by the nickname “Alfredo Compadre,” would be pleading to drug possession with intent to supply.

Increased interest in the case was sparked by the recent arrest of Guzman, who was charged alongside Hernandez in the indictment in 2009, and is allegedly responsible for smuggling the majority of illegal drugs sold on Chicago’s streets.

Chicago Drug Enforcement Administration boss Jack Riley on Saturday told the Sun-Times he’d be pushing for Guzman, who has also been indicted in other jurisdictions and still faces Mexican justice, to be tried in Chicago.

But with more than half a dozen criminal cases pending against Guzman in Mexico, Mexican officials are in no rush to extradite him.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon,” Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said in a radio interview.

The gray-haired Hernandez, 58, allegedly described himself as a “lifelong friend” of Guzman. He had been due to stand trial alongside another alleged Sinaloa trafficker in May.

Wearing an orange Bureau of Prisons jumpsuit and leg shackles in court Wednesday, he followed proceedings via an interpreter but made no comment.

Prosecutors say he was one of the cartel’s logistics chiefs, and that they have him on tape discussing the importation of cocaine into Mexico from Colombia via submarine, as well as the shipments via train of hundreds of kilos of cocaine into Chicago.

Contributing: AP

Email: kjanssen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @kimjnews



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