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

Casey Affleck’s movie Light of My Life features Southern Interior of B.C.

Film features Academy Award and Emmy Award winners

Forest fires spotted near Greenwood and Christina Lake

Aircraft and ground crews attacked both fires on Thursday

Residents petition for pre-flood value buyout, say Grand Forks case could set B.C. precedent

A petition will be presented to the B.C. Minister of Public Safety next week

Sisters trot across Canada for guide dogs

The Keca sisters passed through the Boundary earlier this week

Cannabis category added to Grand Forks Fall Fair

Mayor to be among judges evaluating look, smell and ‘burnability’

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

Most Read