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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman March 12, 2021

No, El Chapo didn’t testify that he paid off Pelosi

If Your Time is short

  • Infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán didn’t testify that he paid off U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep the U.S.-Mexico border open for drug cartels. He never took the stand during his trial.

In February 2021, a U.S. judge ordered Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, to be detained on charges she conspired with her husband to run a multibillion dollar drug enterprise while he was behind bars.

Maybe that’s why a bogus meme started circulating on Facebook that claims Guzmán testified that he paid off U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep the U.S.-Mexico border open for drug cartels.

"El Chapo testifies in U.S. court he paid off Nancy Pelosi to keep the Mexican/U.S. border open for drug cartels! Impeach Pelosi," the post claims.

This is a riff off other rumors that claim Guzmán gave up information during his testimony in his high-profile trial. And like the others, it’s completely fabricated because Guzmán didn’t take the stand at all. 

Meanwhile, if such a bombshell allegation was actually made about Pelosi, it would have received substantial news coverage. We found none.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

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In February 2019, Guzmán was found guilty on 10 counts of federal charges after a three-month trial exposed the inner workings of his Sinaloa cartel, which funneled drugs into the U.S. for decades. He was later sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.

According to the trial’s transcript and several media reports, Guzmán chose not to testify at the trial and his defense only called one witness, FBI agent Paul Roberts. The agent was called to discuss notes he took about a drug trafficker previously involved with Guzmán, in an attempt to highlight discrepancies between the notes and the testimony the trafficker gave during the trial.

Alex Cifuentes, a former Guzmán associate, took the stand and testified that, among other Mexican officials paid off by Guzmán, former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto took a $100 million bribe from the kingpin. But there was no testimony about Pelosi or any other American official.

Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi, told us the claim is "obviously false," and Jeffrey Lichtman, the attorney who represented El Chapo in the trial, confirmed to Reuters that it was not part of his team’s defense or testimony.

Our ruling

A Facebook post claims El Chapo testified that he paid off Pelosi to keep the U.S.-Mexico border open for drug cartels.

This is bogus. Guzmán did not take the stand at his trial, and therefore could not have testified that his cartel gave money to any American official. If he did, we would have known about it during his trial in 2019.

Pants on Fire!

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No, El Chapo didn’t testify that he paid off Pelosi

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