According to NEW YORK (AP) — The Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced Wednesday to life behind bars in a U.S. prison. The sentence is the climax to years of killing, bribing and get away tunnels to escape his way out of trouble.
A federal judge in Brooklyn sentenced him in the United States after Guzman has been protected in Mexico via corruption and gangsters. He was brought to U.S. after he escaped from Mexican prisons twice
“My case was stained and you denied me a fair trial when the whole world was watching,” Guzman said in court through an interpreter. “When I was extradited to the United States, I expected to have a fair trial, but what happened was exactly the opposite.”
He also thanked his family for giving him “the strength to bear this torture that I have been under for the past 30 months.” He looked at his family after the sentencing and placed his hand on his heart.
The sentence— life plus 30 years— was pre-ordained. The guilty verdict in February at Guzman’s 11-week trial triggered a mandatory sentence of life without parole . Cogan also ordered Guzman to pay $12.6 billion in ill-gotten proceeds— money his drug-trafficking organization made distributing cocaine and other drugs around the United States.
The evidence showed that under Guzman’s orders, the Sinaloa cartel was responsible for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign, prosecutors said in court papers re-capping the trial. They also said his “army of sicarios” was under orders to kidnap, torture and murder anyone who got in his way.
The defense argued he was framed by other traffickers who became government witnesses so they could get breaks in their own cases. They also claimed his trial was tainted by jurors improperly viewing media coverage of the highly publicized case.
“A fair outcome was a fair trial— that’s all we wanted,” defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman told reporters Wednesday outside the federal courthouse. “It was not justice. We can’t have a situation where the jurors are running around lying to a judge about what they were doing.”
Guzman has been largely cut off from the outside world since his extradition in 2017.
Wary of his history of escaping from Mexican prisons, U.S. authorities have kept him in solitary confinement in an ultra-secure unit at a Manhattan jail and under close guard at his appearances at the Brooklyn courthouse where his case unfolded.
Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado, known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” Most inmates at Supermax are given a television, but their only actual view of the outside world is a 4-inch window. They have minimal interaction with other people and eat all their meals in their cells.
Prosecution descriptions of an empire that paid for private planes, beachfront villas and a private zoo were a fallacy, his lawyers say. And the chances the U.S. government could collect on a roughly $12.5 billion forfeiture order are zero, they add.
The government’s case, defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said recently, was “all part of a show trial.”