On July 17th, Joaquín Guzmán, better known to the world as the Mexican drug lord “El Chapo”, was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years by a US judge in a federal court in New York. El Chapo was found guilty on several charges including drug trafficking, money laundering, and unlawful use of firearms. Along with the life sentence, he was also ordered to forfeit $12.6 billion.
Guzmán was the former head of the Sinaloa cartel, the largest supplier of drugs to the US. He entered Forbes’ list of the world’s richest men in 2009 at number 701, with an estimated worth of $1 billion.
Aside from his notorious drug operations, El Chapo has been making headlines for a few years with his multiple escapes from Mexican prisons as well as his knack to avoid arrest. In 2015, he escaped Mexico’s maximum-security Altiplano prison when his sons bought a nearby property and dug to his exact location using a GPS watch that was smuggled into the prison. He escaped on a small adapted motorcycle through the tunnel.
Many accusations were made against Guzmán in his February trial when witnesses recounted scenes of murders and beatings to people from rival cartels and even his own family members. Court papers accused him of drugging and raping girls as young as 13, and using hitmen to carry out hundred of kidnappings, torture acts, and murders.
Interestingly enough, Guzmán did not use his final moments in the public eye to defend himself, perhaps because he knew his fate was already sealed. He instead chose to complain about the US justice system, claiming he was denied a fair trial and that the US is no better than any other corrupt country.
Guzmán’s lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman has announced plans to appeal against the verdict. Claiming that, “It was a show trial,” Lichtman argued that the trial had not been conducted fairly and that the coverage by the media was heavily influencing the jurors.
The jurors for Guzmán’s trial have remained anonymous and were escorted to and from the Brooklyn courthouse by armed marshals, as Guzmán has a history of intimidating and sometimes ordering the murder of his witnesses.
SIGNING OFF – MIKE MARQUEZ