El Chapo 'used young girls for sex like vitamins', court papers claim
Notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman had sex with minors he called "vitamins", according to claims by witnesses in newly unsealed documents.
The allegations come as a jury in New York is about to start deliberating in his US drug-trafficking case.
According to papers made public at the weekend, a key government co-operator told authorities that Guzman had him drug girls as young as 13 before Guzman had sex with them at one of his Mexican hideouts in the late 2000s.
One of Guzman's lawyers called the accusations "extremely salacious" and questioned the timing of the government filing.
Guzman "denies the allegations, which lack any corroboration and were deemed too prejudicial and unreliable to be admitted at trial", lawyer Eduardo Balarezo said in a statement.
"It is unfortunate that the material was publicly released just prior to the jury beginning deliberations."
The jury is set to begin deliberations today after a nearly three-month trial on charges that as the head of the Sinaloa cartel, Guzman oversaw a drug-smuggling empire that flooded the US market with at least 180 tonnes of cocaine and made $14bn (€12bn) from it.
The defence says co-operating witnesses have made Guzman a scapegoat for their own crimes.
The unsealing of the documents came at the request of the 'New York Times' and the Vice News website.
US District Judge Brian Cogan had ordered prosecutors to review the material - originally sealed because it was deemed unrelated to the drug charges - and make portions of it public within four days after the government rested its case against Guzman.
One document says Colombian drug trafficker Alex Cifuentes, while living with Guzman around 2007, told investigators someone known as Comadre Maria would offer photos of girls to Guzman.
For $5,000, the girl of Guzman's choice would be sent to a secluded Sinaloa ranch, Cifuentes said, according to the papers. Guzman directed Cifuentes to put a "powdery substance" into the girls' drinks before sex, said Cifuentes.
Guzman "called the youngest of the girls his 'vitamins' because he believed that sexual activity with young girls gave him 'life'", he added.
Cifuentes also admitted having sex with minors but without drugging them.
The document says other co-operating witnesses have backed up the claims about Guzman's interactions with underage girls.
The documents also describe an interview with Guzman conducted by a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent in 1998 at a Mexican prison where Guzman escaped two years later.
They say he allegedly asked whether he could avoid extradition to the US if he provided information to the DEA about the drug-running operations of rival cartels.