‘El Chapo’ Guzmán Sentenced to Life in Prison, Ending Notorious Criminal Career
He sent hundreds of tons of drugs to the United States from Mexico and caused the brutal deaths of dozens of people.
[What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.]
He was one of the most notorious outlaws of the last 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 Mr. Guzmán’s crimes, was handed down in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, where the kingpin was convicted last winter of drug, murder and money laundering charges after a sprawling three-month trial.
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 Judge Cogan had no choice but to sentence Mr. 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
Looking disheveled and slightly out of sorts, Mr. Guzmán walked into the eighth-floor courtroom under guard shortly before 9:30 a.m. He wore a loosefitting gray suit, with his tie rakishly askew and a new-growth mustache darkening his upper lip.
Reading from a prepared statement, he 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.”
“Since the government of the United States is going to send me to a prison where my name will never be heard again, I take advantage of this opportunity to say there was no justice here,” he said.
I Wanted to Know What White Men Thought About Their Privilege. So I Asked.
LeBron James Jr. Is 14. He Already Draws Curious Crowds.
Arby’s Has an Answer to Plant-Based Meat: A Meat-Based Carrot
Though Judge Cogan did not specify where Mr. Guzmán would serve his sentence, he is likely to be sent to the country’s most forbidding federal prison, the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, or ADX, in Florence, Colo.
Mr. Guzmán’s decades-long career atop the Sinaloa drug cartel, one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal mafias, came to a close only after years of joint investigation and pursuit by the American and Mexican authorities.
His ability to persistently evade capture — and then escape from prison after he was caught — underscored the deep corruption of the Mexican government by his cartel, which used bribery and intimidation to control not just the local, state and federal police, but some of the highest-ranking officials in the national government.
“It’s justice not only for the Mexican government, but for all of Guzmán’s victims in Mexico,” said Raymond P. Donovan, the agent in charge of the New York office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who was instrumental in capturing the kingpin twice.
After the sentencing, one of Mr. Guzmán’s lawyers, Jeffrey Lichtman, spoke outside the courthouse in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, complaining, as his client had, that the lengthy legal proceeding had been unfair.
“All he wanted was justice and at the end of the day, he didn’t get it,” Mr. Lichtman said, adding, “It was a show trial, and it’s been so since Day 1.”
Moments later, Richard P. Donoghue, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, whose office prosecuted the case with colleagues from Miami and Washington, also addressed reporters.
Mr. Donoghue said the authorities could not undo the misery Mr. Guzmán had caused, “but we can ensure that he spends every minute of every day of the rest of his life in prison.”