After the list of guilty verdicts had been read, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman turned to his wife and the couple exchanged thumbs-ups. Despite the momentary bravado, the guilty verdicts could mean life behind bars for the legendary Mexican drug cartel figure after a jury found him guilty of involvement in not only billion-dollar drug trafficking, but murders, bribery and more.

Attention now turns to two men in Chicago and their impending court cases. They are accused of being Guzman’s top associates in the Sinaloa drug cartel.

One of the men is Vicente “El Vicentillo” Zambada Niebla, who testified against Guzman early this year during El Chapo’s New York trial. He’s the son of another prominent alleged Sinaloa cartel figure, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Vicente Zambada was among those charged here in an indictment brought against El Chapo and others a decade ago. Federal prosecutors used evidence from that case, along with cases in San Diego, Miami, Washington DC and El Paso, Texas, during El Chapo’s three-month court case in Brooklyn.

After pleading guilty to drug conspiracy charges and cooperating with the prosecution, Zambada will be sentenced in Chicago on April 25 in federal court. The other man facing a reckoning here is Jesus Raul Beltran Leon, who awaits trial on charges related to the allegations to which Zambada is pleading guilty.

During El Chapo’s trial, Zambada told jurors that he oversaw cocaine shipments that began in Columbia, went through Mexico and wound up in the Windy City, Los Angeles and elsewhere.

The stakes could not have been higher for Guzman, Leon and Zambada. All three faced the real possibility of life in prison and made their choices based on those possibilities.

Those facing drug trafficking charges and related allegations can speak with a Chicago criminal defense attorney experienced in protecting both rights and freedom.