El Chapo Sentenced To Life Plus 30 Years, Ordered To Pay $12.6 Billion

By Lindsey Weedston 07/23/19

The infamous drug kingpin's defense plans to appeal, claiming juror misconduct.

El Chapo
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/DEA

The infamous drug kingpin known as El Chapo has been sentenced to life plus 30 years in prison and will have to hand over $12.6 billion after being found guilty of overseeing one of the biggest criminal drug operations in the world—the international Sinaloa Cartel.

The drug lord, real name Joaquin Guzman Loera, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn by Judge Brian Cogan last Wednesday (July 17).

Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel has been blamed for fueling the opioid epidemic in the U.S. by funneling mass amounts of heroin into the country, as well as cocaine and methamphetamine. Much of his cartel operated in Mexico, where Guzman was twice incarcerated in maximum security prisons. He escaped each time, the second through a nearly mile-long tunnel under the prison.

Guzman remained silent during his three-month trial, but made what CNBC called a “tear-choked statement” after his sentence was handed down, claiming that he was denied a fair trial and accusing the U.S. of corruption.

“My case was stained and you denied me a fair trial when the world was watching,” he said as his words were translated from Spanish by his lawyer. “What happened here [in] the U.S. is not better than any other corrupt country.”

Living Conditions

He also claimed that he was being tortured in detainment.

“I drink unsanitary water, no air or sunlight, and the air pumped in makes my ears and throat hurt. In order to sleep, I put toilet paper in my ears. My wife had not been allowed to visit, and I can’t hug my daughters. This has been psychological, emotional and mental torture 24 hours a day.”

Guzman’s defense plans to appeal, claiming juror misconduct. One of the jurors for this case told Vice News in February that “at least five fellow jurors violated the judge’s orders by following the case in the media during the trial.”

A Damning Statement

One of his cartel’s victims made a statement about how Guzman has affected her life—and nearly ended it.

“Today I come here a miracle of God,” said Andrea Velez Fernandez. “Mr. Guzman used me as bait to kidnap someone in Ecuador. He offered one million dollars to Hells Angels to end my life. Fortunately I found out and escaped with the help of the FBI.

Guzman will likely serve out his sentence in the ADX Florence in Colorado, one of the country’s “supermax” security prisons, due to his history of escaping. The Sinaloa Cartel has continued to operate after the kingpin’s arrest.

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Lindsey Weedston is a Seattle area writer focused on mental health and addiction, politics, human rights, and various social issues. Her work has appeared in The Establishment, Ravishly, ThinkProgress, Little Things, Yes! Magazine, and others. You can find her daily writings at NotSorryFeminism.com. Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindseyWeedston