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

Fire destroys house in Greenwood on Saturday

Neighbours say the fire started around 11:30 a.m.

Snowfall warning for Kootenay and Paulson passes

Up to 30 cm expected in mountain passes Saturday and Sunday.

Grand Forks residents rally for a ‘fair deal’ in flood buyouts

Demonstrators also criticized how long it has taken to be offered land deals

Police seize drugs, weapons and cash from Christina Lake residence

One man was arrested when RCMP executed a search warrant on Nov. 14

Moose tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in northwest Montana

This is the first time the disease has been detected in the species in Montana

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

B.C. woman ordered to return dog to ex-boyfriend for $2,000

After the two broke up, documents state, they agree to share custody of the dog, named Harlen

Abbotsford police chief mulls more enforcement of homeless lawbreakers

‘When all else has failed we have to hold people accountable,’ Police Chief Mike Serr tells council

Government needs to step up to address $10M RCMP budget deficit: Morrison

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison says governments need to ensure rural communities are protected

Striking Vancouver hotel workers, employer reach ‘tentative’ agreement

Employees of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia have been out at picket lines since talks broke off on Sept. 21

RCMP cut free activists chained to Kelowna bank, placed under arrest

The group is protesting Interior Savings Credit Union’s support of Kelowna Ribfest

Cold, stormy winter forecast across much of Canada, The Weather Network predicts

In British Columbia temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be just below normal

Cell phone tickets worse tax grab than speed limits, SenseBC says

Distracted driving statistics questioned as B.C. tickets pile up

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Most Read