Former pilot: I nearly killed El Chapo in a plane crash

A former pilot for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman testified Monday that he nearly killed the Mexican drug lord when he crash-landed the cartel’s drug-running plane — and detailed the massive payouts that kept police off their backs.

Miguel “Gordo” Angel Martinez took the stand in Brooklyn federal court to recount his time working as a “manager” for Guzman’s Sinaloa drug cartel from 1986 to 1998.

He also revealed that the ruthless kingpin handsomely rewarded the then-chief of police in Mexico City, Guillermo Gonzalez Calderoni, to keep his drug enterprise running smoothly.

“He was sent on two or three occasions $10 million each time,” Martinez testified as the third week of Guzman’s drug-trafficking trial got underway.

Calderoni was gunned down in McAllen, Texas, in 2003, after he fled Mexico to live in the US border town. He was fatally shot on a public sidewalk at the age of 54 following death threats from former Mexican president Carlos Salinas, according to a 2003 New York Times report.

Martinez’s first gig was moving cocaine between Colombia and Mexico as a commercially licensed pilot in 1987 — but it was a job he wasn’t very good at.

The turncoat was flying Guzman and his bodyguard from Guadalajara to Durango when things went awry.

“When I went to land the plane, the propeller hit the ground,” Martinez said.

Guzman was “calm” over the heart-stopping incident but his bodyguard “wanted to kill me,” recalled Martinez, who was fired as a cartel pilot.

“Mr. Guzman told me I was a really bad pilot,” he said, which made jurors and the gallery burst into laughter.

In an earlier incident, Martinez somehow survived another crash landing — with 1,470 kilos of cocaine on board that was headed from Colombia to Sonora.

His co-pilot, an unidentified US Navy pilot who would fall asleep mid-flight, turned to him and said, “They didn’t fill the gas tanks right.”

One of the plane’s engines died and the aircraft crash landed on the air strip. The cocaine survived, Martinez said.

Guzman was thrilled, chanting, “gordo, gordo, gordo, gordo,” which was cartel code for when a drug shipment safely reached its destination. The diminutive boss was hell-bent on using cryptic language — and special whistling noises — when discussing the illicit drug enterprise, according to Martinez.

“Mr. Guzman told me to always be careful because the Americans could be listening to our conversations,” the witness said.

Jet fuel was called “vino,” planes were known as “girls,” cocaine was “shirts” and money was referred to as “documents,” Martinez added. And when Guzman wanted him to ready the planes for a shipment, he told him to “organize a party.”

Guzman, who proclaimed himself the godfather to Martinez’s son when he was born in 1989, stared at his former friend as he testified, his arms folded across his chest.

Jeffrey Lichtman, one of Guzman’s lawyers, worked to discredit Martinez, who is in the federal witness protection program, in his opening statements, saying he had a “4-gram daily cocaine habit” that lasted 15 years.

“The inside of his nose basically fell out,” Lichtman told jurors.

Earlier in the day, Judge Brian Cogan said Guzman’s beauty-queen wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, was caught with a cellphone — which is strictly forbidden in the courthouse. It’s unclear when she was caught with the contraband but prosecutors told the judge there is “footage of her having a cellphone in the court.”

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