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How drug kingpin ‘El Chapo’ was sentenced to life in US prison

Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has been sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years by a US federal judge.

He was found guilty of running a murderous criminal enterprise that smuggled tonnes of drugs into the United States was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison on Wednesday.

The infamous crime boss was found guilty of trafficking tons of cocaine, heroin and other drugs into the United States as the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel in February.

US District Judge Brian Cogan imposed the sentence of life plus 30 years, which was mandatory under the law, at a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn. Guzman was also ordered to forfeit $12.bn, prosecutors said.

Guzman, 62, was convicted in February on multiple conspiracy counts in an epic drug-trafficking case. The guilty verdict at an 11-week trial triggered what the government said was a well-justified mandatory sentence of life without parole.

Directly before Wednesday’s sentencing, El Chapo told the Brooklyn courtroom that his confinement in the US had amounted to “psychological, emotional, mental torture 24 hours a day.” He added that he had received an unfair trial and accused jurors of misconduct.

He was previously imprisoned in maximum-security prisons in Mexico but twice pulled off daring escapes. On one occasion, he broke free by digging a mile-long tunnel from his cell.

Guzman, whose nickname means "Shorty," developed a reputation as a Robin Hood-like figure that made him a folk hero to many in his home state of Sinaloa, where he was born in a poor mountain village.

The evidence showed that under Guzman's orders, the Sinaloa cartel was responsible for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the US during his 25-year reign, prosecutors said in court papers re-capping the trial.

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.

Prosecution descriptions of an empire that paid for private planes, beachfront villas and a private zoo were a fallacy, his lawyers said. And the chances the US government could collect on a roughly $12.5bn forfeiture order are zero, they added.

The goverment case, defence lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman said recently, was "all part of a show trial."
It has not yet been revealed where he will spend the rest of his life but the most likely option is the ADX Florence in Colorado, which is considered America’s most secure “Supermax” prison.

Though other top cartel figures had been extradited to the US before, Guzman was the first to go to trial rather than pleading guilty.

Guzman's lawyers have said they intend to appeal his guilty verdict. They had already asked Cogan to overturn it, citing a report that jurors disobeyed court rules by reading news reports about the case during the trial, but the judge rejected that request.

Despite Guzman's downfall, the Sinaloa Cartel had the biggest US distribution presence of Mexican cartels as of last year, followed by the fast-growing Jalisco New Generation Cartel, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Sources: rt / Aljazeera

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