NEW YORK – NOTORIOUS drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera was formally sentenced today to life in prison plus 30 years on drug trafficking charges.
Guzmán, 62, was a leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa narcotics cartel.
US District Court Judge Brian Cogan imposed the sentence amid bomb-sniffing dogs, automatic rifle-toting agents and other extra security measures at the Brooklyn federal courthouse for all of Guzmán’s appearances.
USA Today reports that the line to get into the proceeding started forming around 7 p.m. yesterday. By dawn, more than 50 media representatives and spectators lined the sidewalk outside the courthouse.
Guzmán, who did not testify in his own defence during the trial, complained to the judge on Wednesday that his trial had been “stained” by juror misconduct.
In a sentencing letter filed last week, prosecutors reiterated that life behind bars is the mandatory punishment for one of the crimes on which a federal jury found Guzmán guilty five months ago.
Defence lawyers have signalled that they plan to appeal the conviction, as well as Cogan’s recent denial of a motion for an evidentiary hearing and new trial based on what they viewed as potential evidence of misconduct.
Guzmán is best known as a former leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel who gained fame by twice breaking out of high-security prisons in his native country – but hasn’t managed to pull off a similar feat in the U.S.
Depending on U.S. Bureau of Prisons decisions, he could be sent to the so-called Alcatraz of the Rockies the “administrative maximum” prison in Florence, Colorado. There he would join, but likely never meet, fellow inmates such as Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols.
Guzmán’s nearly 12-week trial ended in February with a jury of eight women and four men finding the defendant guilty on all counts during the sixth day of deliberations.
The charges against Guzmán included drug trafficking and weapons counts stemming from his leadership role in the cartel’s smuggling tons of cocaine and other drugs into major U.S. cities during a criminal career that stretched for decades.
Although his nickname means “shortie” in Mexican Spanish, Guzmán has long been a larger-than-life narcotrafficante whose persona has been featured on web TV, online and other media productions. Fittingly, his sentence was large, too.
The guilty verdict on the charge he engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise mandated a life prison term because of the jury’s separate guilty votes on three sentencing enhancements.