Judge reduces life sentence for El Chapo lieutenant after the Mexican drug kingpin’s wife is arrested – raising suspicions HE is the one whose testimony secured her arrest
- Damaso Lopez Nunez, 55, testified against Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman at trial
- A former prison director, he was Guzman’s right-hand man
- After Guzman’s 2016 arrest, he battled Guzman’s sons for control of the cartel
- Known as ‘El Licenciado’, for having a degree, he was sentenced to life in 2018
- Lopez Nunez was arrested in Mexico City in May 2017 and extradited to U.S.
- He had been cooperating with authorities in return for a reduced sentence
- On Wednesday it was reported he would be freed decades early, in 2032
- The news came three days after Guzman’s wife was detained by U.S. authorities
- At Guzman’s trial he testified she was deeply involved in Guzman’s trafficking
- Lopez Nunez is one of several people suspected of testifying against her
A top figure in Joaquin ‘El Chapo‘ Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel, who testified against his boss and incriminated Guzman’s wife, has had his sentence massively reduced – days after she was arrested.
Damaso Lopez Nunez, 55, was a star witness at Guzman’s trial, taking the stand for three dramatic days in January 2019.
A former prison director known as ‘El Licenciado’, for his university degree, Lopez Nunez also spoke at length about Emma Coronel’s involvement in her husband’s business and her efforts to break him out of jail in 2015.
Coronel was arrested at Dulles airport in Washington DC on Monday.
Her charging documents relied heavily on the testimony of ‘Cooperating Witness 1’, giving rise to speculation that that was Lopez Nunez.
Damaso Lopez Nunez, 55, testified against Guzman in January 2019 and implicated his wife
Lopez Nunez was Guzman’s right-hand-man and turned on him. Guzman is seen landing in the United States in January 2017, ahead of a trial which concluded in February 2019
Guzman’s wife Emma Coronel, 31, was arrested on Monday at Dulles airport in Washington DC
On Wednesday Mexican media reported that Lopez Nunez’s life sentence had been reduced to just 15 years, meaning he would be a free man in 2032.
Mike Vigil, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s former Chief of International Operations, who spent decades undercover with Mexican and Colombian cartels, told DailyMail.com that Lopez Nunez was undoubtedly one of the witnesses against Coronel.
‘It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out he’s one of the witnesses.
‘Keep in mind he has already testified that Emma had been the conduit for Chapo and the cartel when they were facilitating an escape. He provided notes he had received from her.
‘All these guys who testified against Chapo, they’re all getting reduced sentences.’
Vigil said that, after turning on Guzman, Lopez Nunez would have a target on his back as soon as he left prison.
‘He’ll be furious this has leaked,’ said Vigil. ‘It’s a death sentence for him.
‘There are people in Mexico who are monitoring this – and I guarantee you, they’ll read it.
‘I would assume, unless he is really stupid, he’s worked out a witness protection agreement.’
Coronel is pictured in court on Washington DC on Tuesday, where she was denied bail
Lopez Nunez is one of several cartel figures likely to have testified against Coronel, in a bid to reduce their own sentences.
They are believed to include Lopez Nunez’s own son, Damaso Lopez Serrano, known as ‘Mini Lic’, who is Guzman’s godson.
Lopez Serrano turned himself in to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in July 2017, two months after his father was arrested in Mexico City.
Father and son had been battling Guzman’s sons for control of the cartel following Guzman’s 2016 arrest.
Another cartel figure who could have been ‘Cooperating Witness 1’ is Vicente Zambada Niebla, known as Vicentillo.
The son of Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada, who is currently believed to run the cartel, Zambada Niebla, 45, also testified against Guzman in New York in early 2019.
In May of that year he dodged a life sentence, and instead was given 15 years by the judge, who praised his ‘extraordinary cooperation.’