Feds Arrest Fake El Chapo Relative Inside Courtroom
‘Rene Martinez’ took a seat reserved for the cartel leader’s wife and was escorted out—then into handcuffs on several outstanding warrants.
A man who pretended to be part of purported Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman's family was arrested in Brooklyn federal court on Thursday.
Rene Rivera-Martinez took a seat reserved for Guzman's wife, Emma Coronel, in the main courtroom’s gallery around 9 a.m. He told several reporters that he was family and had houses all over the world. A U.S. Marshal who spotted the man told him he couldn't sit in that row and ordered him outside.
“I'm family,” Martinez said. “You can’t.”
The marshal escorted him outside of the courtroom, and he was directed into the “overflow” room meant to accommodate demand for seating in the case. At some point, court security learned that Martinez had at least one open warrant, an official with knowledge of the situation told The Daily Beast, and the man was arrested in the overflow courtroom before 11 a.m.
A bench warrant for his arrest was issued on Jan. 19 after he didn’t show up to a proceeding in Brooklyn Criminal Court, prosecutors said. His case related to several counts of harassment. According to the criminal complaint, Martinez sent “text messages stating, in sum and substance, what the fuck is this bitch, I'm coming after you, and I know where you work, you fucked up.”
Martinez was transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the official said.
Jeffrey Lichtman, who's leading Guzman's defense, emphatically said Martinez was not related to his client, calling him an “imposter, totally,” and called the man's claim “fake news.”
The jury in Guzman’s case was deliberating the alleged drug kingpin's fate for a fourth day. Jurors have repeatedly requested key witness testimony and asked the judge in the case several questions. Guzman smiled and snapped a salute at Lichtman on Wednesday, indicating he was optimistic about the deliberations. The jury will reconvene on Monday.