Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced to life plus 30 years in prison by a US judge in Brooklyn Wednesday.
The Mexican drug kingpin, who was convicted in February on all 10 counts, was also ordered to pay $12.6 billion in money he made off his criminal drug enterprise.
El Chapo’s long tenure as head of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico is filled with details only seen in Hollywood movies: gangland-style murders, massive political bribes, diamond-encrusted guns, and clandestine escapes from prison through mile-long underground tunnels.
Through it all, El Chapo built a billion-dollar criminal enterprise trafficking cocaine, heroin, marijuana and synthetic fentanyl into the United States.
In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan said the “overwhelming evil” of El Chapo’s crimes was made readily apparent during the 12-week trial.
Guzman, 62, who did not testify in his own defense, also addressed the court, speaking out in public for the first time since his conviction, albeit via an attorney.
“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,” El Chapo told the court through his lawyer before sentencing.
“I’ve been forced to drink unsanitary water. I’ve been denied access to fresh air and sunlight. The only sunlight I have in my cell comes through in the air vent,” he added.
“In order to sleep, I have to clog my ears with toilet paper because of the air from the air duct. My wife has not been allowed to this day to visit me, I have not been allowed to hug my daughters,” he complained. “I have been physically, psychologically, mentally tortured 24 hours a day.”
El Chapo remarked how when he was extradited, he “expected to have a fair trial… what happened was actually the opposite.”
In February, Richard Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said he expected a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“It is a sentence from which there is no escape and no return,” Donoghue said. “His conviction is a victory for the American people who have suffered so long and so much while Guzman made billions pouring poison over our southern border.”
U.S. attorneys who successfully prosecuted El Chapo spoke outside the federal courthouse, as well.
“Today brings a measure of justice for the American people. It brings a measure of justice for the country of Mexico, whose institution were corrupted for decades by the Sinaloa cartel,” said Brian Bezczkowski, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. “If you pump hundreds of thousands of tons of cocaine and other drugs into our country, we will find you, we will extricate you, we will prosecute you, and we will bring you to justice.”
“This sentence is significant and it is well deserved. It means that never again will Guzman throw poison over our borders, making billions, while innocent lives are lost to drug violence and drug addiction,” Donoghue said on Tuesday.