By 2:30 p.m. Tuesday the Bayway Courthouse Café on the third floor of the Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn had served 505 people, according to their receipt tracking software. Chef Billy Costan, taking over the cash register while his colleagues finished clean-up, called it “a light day.”
Since the trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera began on Nov. 5th 2018, the courthouse café has been serving upwards of 600 people a day, including attorneys, law enforcement officers, and journalists from as far away as Colombia and Spain, said Costan. “That number’s gonna go way down now,” he said.
The reason: the El Chapo trial is over. Shortly before noon Tuesday, Judge Brian Cogan read the New York jury’s verdict: guilty on all 10 counts. The jury has been sequestered at a local hotel and hidden from public view throughout the three-month trial out of concern for their safety.
Guzman has long been considered a drug kingpin, having been indicted on drug trafficking and money laundering charges in the United States in 2001 and in Mexico in 2014. Both times, he escaped from prison before trial.
In a statement following Tuesday morning’s verdict, the Justice Department dubbed him “a principal operator of a continuing criminal enterprise – the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel – a charge that includes 26 drug-related violations and one murder conspiracy.”
Media coverage of the trial has been frenzied. Tuesday, as the first snowstorm of the year billowed through New York, news teams began arriving as early as 5 a.m. to claim their places outside the courthouse.
By 3 p.m., however, the crowd in front of the building had thinned and Costan’s café was closed to new customers. Stragglers in the restaurant’s seating area included officers of the New York Police Department’s Emergency Services and journalists sitting down to late lunches after filing their final pieces on the verdict.
The rest of the courthouse was similarly abandoned. The remaining guards, custodians, and administrative employees seemed relieved by the quiet.
“Are you coming back for the sentencing?” a line cook asked the last reporter as she left. The reporter confirmed she would be there.
Guzman will return to court for sentencing on June 25th. He will likely be sentenced to life without parole.