Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo sentenced to life in US prison

New York: Once one of the world’s most powerful and notorious criminals, Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was jailed for life on Wednesday — the mandatory sentence for a host of crimes spanning a quarter-century.
Guzman, the 62-year-old former co-leader of Mexico’s mighty Sinaloa drug cartel, was convicted in February in US federal court on a variety of charges, including trafficking hundreds of tonnes of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana to the United States.
The much-anticipated sentencing hearing in a New York courtroom caps a dramatic legal saga and saw Guzman deliver what will likely be his final public words before he is taken to a supermax federal prison in Colorado for the rest of his days.
“Since the government of the United States is going to send me to a prison where they will never hear my name, I take this opportunity to tell them: there was no justice here,” he said, wearing a gray suit, lilac shirt, purple tie and publicly sporting his mustache for the first time stateside.
The charges, which also include money laundering and weapons-related offences, carried a mandatory life sentence.
US Federal Judge Brian Cogan tacked a symbolic 30 years on the sentence and ordered Guzman to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture — an amount based on a conservative estimate of revenues from his cartel’s drug sales in the United States.
So far, US authorities have not recovered a dime. In the courtroom in Brooklyn, Guzman said prayers from his supporters had given him “strength to endure this great torture,” which he said has been “one of the most inhuman that I have ever experienced… a lack of respect for my human dignity.”
When entering and prior to leaving the room, he touched his heart and blew a kiss to his wife Emma Coronel, who wore a black and white suit and was perhaps seeing her husband for the last time.
Complaining bitterly that he was unable to hug his twin daughters, who did not attend the hearing, Guzman said that “the United States is no better than any other corrupt country that you do not respect.”
Guzman — whose moniker “El Chapo” translates to “Shorty” — is considered to be the most influential drug lord since Colombia’s Pablo Escobar, who was killed in a police shootout in 1993.
During the epic three-month trial in New York, jurors heard evidence from 56 government witnesses, with many describing in exacting detail 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 live for the rest of his life 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.
— AFP