Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' put away for life in U.S.
A Robin Hood-type hero to people in his home state of Sinaloa, U.S. federal judge calls him overwhelmingly evil
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the Mexican drug lord who twice escaped maximum-security prisons in that country, will spend the rest of his life in a U.S. penitentiary, a federal judge said on Wednesday after accusing him of "overwhelming evil."
Guzman, 62, berated the U.S. justice system, and a former associate described how he had paid a gang $1 million to try to kill her before U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan imposed the mandatory sentence of life plus 30 years.
Cogan also ordered Guzman to forfeit $12.6 billion in a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn.
The judge said that even if the law had allowed him any leeway, he would have imposed the harshest sentence available, adding that any redeeming qualities Guzman might have were erased by his "overwhelming evil" actions.
A jury in February convicted Guzman of trafficking tons of cocaine, heroin and marijuana and engaging in multiple murder conspiracies as a top leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, long known as one of Mexico's largest, most violent drug trafficking organizations.
Guzman, whose nickname means "Shorty," developed a reputation as a Robin Hood-like figure that made him a folk hero to many in his home state of Sinaloa, where he was born in a poor mountain village.
He has been held in solitary confinement in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a fortress-like jail in lower Manhattan. Cogan last month rejected Guzman's request for more time to exercise on the jail's roof, after prosecutors said that would risk an escape.
Before he was finally captured in 2016, Guzman twice escaped maximum-security prisons in Mexico. He was extradited to the United States to face trial in January 2017.
"Never again will Guzman pour poison over our border, making billions while innocent lives are lost to drug violence and addiction," U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue told a news conference outside the Brooklyn courthouse. "We can ensure that he spends every minute of every day of the rest of his life in prison."
Guzman made a name for himself as a trafficker in the 1980s by digging tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border that allowed him to smuggle drugs more quickly than his rivals. He amassed power during the 1990s and 2000s through often-bloody wars with rivals, eventually becoming the Sinaloa Cartel's best-known leader.
His 11-week trial, which featured testimony from more than a dozen former associates who had made deals to cooperate with prosecutors, gave an unprecedented look at the cartel's inner workings.
r cheek and take the high road," Duprey said.