Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in prison

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado

Mexican drug kingpin and escape artist Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced Wednesday to life behind bars in a U.S. prison, expressing no remorse over his conviction for a massive drug conspiracy that spread murder and mayhem for more than two decades.

Instead, a defiant Guzman took a parting shot at a judge in federal court in Brooklyn by accusing him of making a mockery of the U.S. justice system in refusing to order a new trial based on unsubstantiated allegations of juror misconduct.

“My case was stained and you denied me a fair trial when the whole world was watching,” Guzman said through an interpreter.

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, where inmates are held alone for 23 hours a day and have little human interaction.

“Since the government will send me to a jail where my name will not ever be heard again, I take this opportunity to say there was no justice here,” he said.

The 62-year-old drug lord – sporting his trademark moustache after being clean-shaven during his trial – also used what could be his last chance to speak in public by complaining about being kept in solitary confinement since he was brought to the U.S. to stand trial after twice breaking out of Mexican prisons.

Before handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan said Guzman’s complaints were minor given the “mountain range of evidence” against him detailing conduct he described as “evil.”

On Wednesday, the judge heard from one of Guzman’s alleged victims, Andrea Velez Fernandez, who once worked for him until she made his enemy list. She claimed he put out a $1 million bounty to have her killed.

“Fortunately, I found out and escaped with the help of the FBI,” she said.

Guzman had no visible reaction at hearing his sentence. As he stood to be led out of the courtroom, he put his hand on his heart and waved to family members.

Outside court, U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue told reporters: “Never again will Guzman pour poison over our borders.”

READ MORE: El Chapo, the fashionista?

The term – life plus 30 years – was a foregone conclusion. The guilty verdict on drug-trafficking charges in February 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 at an 11-week trial showed that Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel was responsible for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign, prosecutors said in recent court papers. They also said his “army of sicarios” was under orders to kidnap, torture and murder anyone who got in his way.

The defence 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,” defence 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. U.S. authorities have kept him in an ultra-secure unit at a Manhattan jail and under close guard at his appearances at the Brooklyn courthouse where his case unfolded.

While the trial was dominated by Guzman’s persona as a near-mythical outlaw who carried a diamond-encrusted handgun and stayed one step ahead of the law, the jury never heard from Guzman himself, except when he told the judge he wouldn’t testify.

But evidence at Guzman’s trial suggested his decision to stay quiet at the defence table was against his nature: Cooperating witnesses told jurors he was a fan of his own rags-to-riches narco story, always eager to find an author or screenwriter to tell it. He famously gave an interview to American actor Sean Penn while he was a fugitive, hiding in the mountains after accomplices built a long tunnel to help him escape from a Mexican prison.

At the trial, Guzman’s lawyers argued he was the fall guy for other kingpins who were better at paying off top Mexican politicians and law enforcement officials to protect them while the U.S. government looked the other way. They said witnesses’ descriptions of El Chapo leading a lavish lifestyle featuring private planes, beachfront villas and a private zoo were overblown, and that there’s no chance the U.S. goverment could collect the multibillion-dollar forfeiture.

The sentencing was headline news in Mexico, but it was seen as unlikely to make a ripple in terms of the country’s politics, security or the unabated drug trade.

Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said Guzman’s fate will have “no impact” on trafficking. In the wake of Guzman’s arrest and extradition, alleged capo Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada is believed to have long-ago consolidated control of the Sinaloa cartel.

“El Chapo is now an old story,” Hope said.

Associated Press writers Jim Mustian in New York and Michael Krumholtz in Mexico City contributed to this report.

Tom Hays And Claudia Torrens, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

TLC hits 81 per cent of fundraising goal

Group aims to protect Clearwater ancient swamp and wildlife corridor

Check out the display

Smith residence ready for spectators

Mike Wiegele kicks off 50th anniversary season

Operation ready to embark on the festivities throughout the next four months

Vavenby weekly news update

Danish couple visiting Vavenby want to make Canada home

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Almost 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: new national study

17,000 people have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisoning

Most Read