Mexican drug baron El Chapo sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years by US court
Joaquín Guzmán Loera known as El Chapo, one of the world's most powerful and notorious criminals, was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years in a federal courtroom in New York on Wednesday.
Before he was sentenced, Guzman, 62, told a federal judge in a Brooklyn courthouse that his case was "stained" by juror misconduct. He said the judge denied him a fair trial on drug trafficking charges "when the whole world was watching." He said America lacks justice and is corrupt, just as other countries.
Guzman, the former leader of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, was convicted in February of crimes spanning a quarter of a century, including trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana to the United States.
The charges, which also include money laundering and weapons-related offenses, carry a mandatory life sentence.
Last week, prosecutors asked US federal judge Brian Cogan to tack on a symbolic extra 30 years in prison for the use of firearms in his business, portraying Guzman as "ruthless and bloodthirsty."
They also wanted Guzman to turn over $12.7 billion, based on a conservative estimate of revenues from his cartel's drug sales in the United States.
Guzman is considered to be the most powerful drug lord since Colombia's Pablo Escobar, killed in a police shootout in 1993.
"El Chapo" ("Shorty") was the co-leader of the still-powerful Sinaloa organization.
During the three-month trial in New York, jurors heard evidence of Guzman's misdeeds. Witnesses described the cartel boss beating, shooting and even burying alive those who got in his way, including informants and rival gang members.
Guzman launched his career working in the cannabis fields of his home state of Sinaloa. Now, he is likely to spend the rest of his days at the "Alcatraz of the Rockies" -- the supermax federal prison in Florence, Colorado.
Current inmates include convicted "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols, the British "shoe bomber" Richard Reid and the Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is awaiting execution.
Since his extradition from Mexico in 2017, Guzman has been held in solitary confinement at a high-security prison in Lower Manhattan.
He has repeatedly complained about the conditions of his detention via his attorneys -- notably that his windowless cell is constantly lit.
"The government's request of life plus 30 years is a farce," said Guzman's attorney Eduardo Balarezo. "Joaquin's conviction and incarceration for drug trafficking will change nothing in the so-called war on drugs."
New York's special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan acknowledged that taking El Chapo out of the equation did not diminish the Sinaloa cartel's influence.
"We believe that's the one that supplies most of the drugs coming into the US," she told AFP.
(With AFP inputs)