Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and Alfredo Beltrán-Leyva were friends and relatives by marriage — until they became bitter enemies.
They worked together to become two of Mexico’s most powerful drug lords, then they went to war with each other. Now the years-long saga between the pair has taken a peculiar new turn: They have the same lawyer.
With Chapo awaiting trial in Brooklyn early next year on a slew of conspiracy charges, he’s hired a lawyer who recently defended Beltrán-Leyva in a very similar battle with the Justice Department.
Beltrán-Leyva was sentenced in April to life in U.S. federal prison after pleading guilty to distributing multiple tons of cocaine and meth. The same fate could await Chapo if he’s convicted.
The lawyer, Angel Eduardo Balarezo, officially became Chapo’s private counsel September 3, and he’s in the midst of a month-long handoff of the case with the public defenders who have controversially represented the purported billionaire at taxpayer expense since he was extradited from Mexico in January.
Balarezo is set to take over entirely on October 2, and he’s expected to be joined by Jeffrey Lichtman, another attorney Chapo has on retainer who is famous for defending New York City mob boss John Gotti Jr.