`El Chapo` lieutenant to plead guilty in Chicago - New York News

`El Chapo` lieutenant backs out of plea

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

One of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's alleged key lieutenants backed out of his plans to plead guilty in federal court Friday after an inaccurate report by reporter Chuck Goudie may have put his family at risk, the Sun-Times is reporting.

Alfredo Vasquez Hernandez indicated last week that he would plead guilty to drug trafficking charges under a "blind plea," an indication he was not cooperating with prosecutors.

But ABC7's Goudie — who was not in court — incorrectly broadcasted later that evening that Vasquez Hernandez had "turned against El Chapo," the billionaire Sinaloa Cartel boss recently captured in Mexico.

The veteran newsman's blunder put Vasquez Hernandez in fear for his family in Mexico's safety, and he withdrew his offer to plead guilty and will now proceed to trial, his attorney Paul Brayman said Friday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Shakeshaft called Goudie's error, "an unfortunate piece of journalism."

"The defendant has no plan to cooperate with the government," Brayman told U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo. "That was not true. He does not intend to testify against anyone, ever."

Brayman said rumors about Vasquez Hernandez's cooperation spread quickly through the Metropolitan Correctional Center and back to Mexico, after the ABC broadcast.

Speaking outside court, he said he had reached out to Goudie, who corrected the story online but told him he did not believe he had given the impression Vasquez Hernandez was cooperating against El Chapo.

Vasquez Hernandez allegedly coordinated shipments of tons of cocaine into Mexico and multiple kilos into the U.S.

Brayman said last week 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.

The gray-haired Hernandez, 58, allegedly described himself as a "lifelong friend" of Guzman. He will now stand trial alongside another alleged Sinaloa trafficker in May.

Brayman asked Castillo if Vasquez Hernandez could be tried in a bench trial, but the judge declined, saying Vasquez Hernandez will be tried by jury as previously planned.

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

Officials with ABC7 Chicago had no immediate comment.

With `El Chapo` in custody, what's next for Chicago?

Chicago's "Public Enemy No. 1" is finally behind bars after being arrested in Mexico. Bloomberg Markets magazine writer Mario Parker talks about what this means for Chicago's war on drugs. More>>

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