Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the notorious drug lord who twice escaped from Mexican prisons, will spend the rest of his life behind bars in the United States.
Guzman, 62, was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison plus 30 years without the possibility of parole—the mandatory sentence after he was found guilty in February of all charges stemming from his role in trafficking billions of dollars worth of drugs into the U.S. as a top boss within the Sinaloa cartel.
Guzman was also ordered to pay $12.6 billion, forfeiting what the government said were ill-gotten gains.
At the sentencing hearing, the drug lord told judge Brian Cogan that he was not given a fair trial “when the whole world was watching,” according to the Associated Press.
“When I was extradited to the United States, I expected to have a fair trial, but what happened was exactly the opposite,” he said.
He also said that his case was “stained” by juror misconduct and said he was not pleased with the conditions of his imprisonment in New York.
During Guzman’s three-month trial in federal court in Brooklyn, stunning testimonies from more than 55 witnesses painted Guzman as a philanderer and revealed widespread government corruption in Mexico. The drama continued even after the trial ended when a Vice News report emerged, alleging that multiple jurors had violated a judge’s orders and then lied about it. It prompted Guzman’s defense lawyers to seek a retrial, but the judge denied the motion on July 3, saying there were no grounds for a new trial. The judge also declined to summon all 12 members of the jury back into the courthouse for a hearing to determine whether the claims in the news report were true and whether the verdict was tainted.
Guzman is perhaps most famous for breaking out of two high-security Mexican prisons. In 2001, he first escaped from the Puente Grande prison by hiding in a laundry cart. He was recaptured in 2014 in Mazatlán, Mexico—only to break free from the Altiplano prison, using a sophisticated mile-long tunnel in 2015. Guzman was re-arrested the next year. In 2017, he was extradited to stand trial in the U.S., where prosecutors said he flooded the streets with hundreds of tons of cocaine.
When he was convicted in February, U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue called it a “victory for the American people” that “pulled back the curtain” on international drug dealing in a way no other trial has.
After the sentencing his defense attorney, Jeffrey Litchman, spoke to reporters outside the courthouse and claimed that Guzman was set up by other drug traffickers who had become government witnesses. He also criticized reports that jurors read news about Guzman during the trial.
“A fair outcome was a fair trial – that’s all we wanted,” Litchman said, according to the AP. “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.”
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