Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Wednesday, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, New York City, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 30 years with a US$12.6 billion fine for drug trafficking and weapons charges as head of the Sinaloa Cartel. Guzmán is considered a high risk inmate by the US Bureau of Prisons and will carry out his sentence at Colorado’s ADX Florence, the only federal super-maximum security facility.

Guzmán was arrested by Mexican authorities on January 8, 2016, after escaping from Mexico’s maximum security Altiplano prison through a mile (1.4 km) long tunnel constructed under the prison to his personal bathroom. He had previously escaped from another Mexican maximum security jail on January 19, 2001 where he was awaiting extradition to San Diego over drug trafficking charges.

Mexico extradited him under high-security measures on January 19, 2017 by aircraft to the Metropolitan Correctional Facility in New York. While giving a statement to the court at sentencing, Guzmán claimed the heighten security measurements during his US detainment, movements, and court appearances were the subjects of his statement to the court through a translator:

“As you know, Your Honor, the conditions of my confinements under which I’ve lived for the last 30 months have been total torture. I have been forced to drink unsanitary water. I have been denied access to fresh air and to sunlight. The only light that I get in my cell comes through a duct, and the air that comes into the cell is forced in and it makes my ears, my throat, my head hurt. In order to sleep, I have to use plugs made out of toilet paper in my ears because of the noise that the air duct makes and this has affected me during this time.”

Both Guzmán and his attorneys spoke out against the sentencing. Defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman called the proceedings a “show trial” and called jurors liars. “It’s a fiction. It’s part of the show trial,” Lichtman said about the monetary forfeiture after the sentencing. “How do they get to dollar one? There are no assets,” he claimed.

Judge Brian Cogan announced the sentence and said the “overwhelming evil [of Guzmán] is so clear,” while citing a “mountain of evidence.” Prosecutor Gina Parlovecchio said, “There were countless victims of his orders to kill. He has shown no remorse.”

ADX Florence hold notable criminals like “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols.