El Chapo

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Drug Kingpin 'El Chapo' Gets Life In Prison

July 17, 2019 - 1:01 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Notorious Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday.

Guzmán, 62, spoke for the first time in court, telling the judge that his 30 months in a U.S. prison have been torturous and that conditions are inhumane. He also claimed to have been railroaded by the U.S. justice system.

“At the end of the day, all that mattered was the government's evidence no matter how flawed it may have been, no matter how many lunatics and sociopaths, psychopaths that it depended on. All that mattered was the evidence and jury be damned,” said Guzmán’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman.  

The kingpin was convicted in February on multiple conspiracy counts in an epic drug-trafficking case. He had been held in solitary confinement 23 hours a day at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center with nearly no access to visitors.

Guzmán’s lawyers had submitted a motion for a mistrial months ago after a news report cited possible juror misconduct, but the judge rejected it and ordered El Chapo to appear Wednesday for sentencing.

The sentencing closes the book on a saga that included the smuggling of hundreds of tons of drugs to the U.S. from Mexico, where prosecutors say Guzmán ordered the torture and murders of perceived enemies.

RELATED: El Chapo Trial: Defense Paints Government Case As ‘Fantasy’

One former employee, Andrea Velez, gave a tearful victim impact statement in which she recounted how El Chapo wanted her dead.

Following her statement, U.S. Attorney Richard Donahue noted the government could not undo the devastation caused by El Chapo and his drug empire.

“But, we can ensure that he spends every minute of every day of the rest of his life in the prison here in the United States,” Donahue said.

RELATED: Prosecutor: Evidence Against El Chapo Is 'Overwhelming'

The government has requested Guzmán pay back $12.6 billion in ill-gotten gains and while the trial contained plenty of drama, the life sentence is a foregone conclusion.

Guzmán, who previously escaped Mexican prisons, will serve his sentence at the "Supermax" prison in Colorado known as "the Alcatraz of the Rockies" because of prisoners’ inability to escape.

El Chapo bribed guards for his first prison escape and tunneled from a maximum security prison for his second.