New York Times News Service
NEW YORK — He was one of the most notorious outlaws of the past 100 years: a brutal Mexican cartel leader, a wily trafficker who smuggled more than $12 billion worth of drugs and plunged his country into a long-running tragedy of bloodshed and corruption.
But on Wednesday morning, the 30-year criminal career of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known to the world as El Chapo, reached its final chapter as a federal judge in New York City sentenced him to life in prison.
The life term, mandated by law as a result of the severity of Guzmán’s crimes, was handed down in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, where the kingpin was convicted last winter of drug, murder and money laundering charges after a three-month trial.
As some of the federal agents who had chased him for years looked on from the gallery, Judge Brian M. Cogan issued the sentence and Guzmán, 62, was hauled away to prepare himself — pending an appeal — for spending the rest of his life behind bars.
Before he disappeared into a holding cell behind the courtroom, he blew a kiss to his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, who attended most of his trial and was implicated in a handful of his crimes.
Although Cogan had no choice but to sentence Guzmán to life, he noted that the “overwhelming evil” of the drug lord’s crimes was readily apparent. Beyond the life sentence — plus an additional 30 years — he ordered him to pay a staggering $12.6 billion in forfeiture.
Reading from a prepared statement, Guzmán said he had not received a fair trial and complained about his solitary confinement in Manhattan’s federal jail, calling it “psychological, emotional and mental torture 24 hours a day.”
Though Cogan did not specify where Guzmán would serve his sentence, he is likely to be sent to the country’s most forbidding federal prison, the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, or ADX, in Florence, Colorado.
Prosecutors leveled some of the most serious charges possible against him, presenting evidence that he sent hundreds of tons of drugs to the United States from Mexico and caused the deaths of dozens of people to protect himself and his smuggling routes.