Path to Citizenship Among Incentives for Drug Traffickers Testifying in El Chapo Trial

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Nearly two years after his extradition from Mexico, notorious cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera faces an American jury in the most significant criminal trial in decades. (Credit: Getty Images)

Nearly two years after his extradition from Mexico, notorious cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera faces an American jury in the most significant criminal trial in decades. (Credit: Getty Images)

Jorge Cifuentes and the other drug traffickers turned witnesses in the ongoing trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman have much to gain by cooperating with the U.S. government and testifying against the Mexican kingpin.

Prosecutors could petition the court to go easier on Cifuentes when he is finally sentenced for his 2015 guilty pleas to charges of drug trafficking and money laundering. And under his cooperation agreement, he can never be charged with other past crimes, including the many slayings he has admitted to ordering as a member of a prominent family in the Colombian drug trade.

But the most coveted prize is the elusive S visa, which provides temporary legal status to convicted terrorists and drug lords and their families and sets them on the path to green cards and eventually U.S. citizenship.

A powerful tool in the prosecution of some of the world’s most dangerous criminals, it is often the main incentive a foreigner has to wear a wire, participate in a sting operation or step onto the witness stand.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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