About half a year after the imprisonment of drug lord Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, the judge announced the sentence. The Mexican must stay in prison for life – in case he does not escape again.
From Deutsche Welle
The official sentence includes life imprisonment plus 30 years. The convict cannot apply for early release, Judge Brian Cogan said. In addition, the court ordered Guzmán to pay an amount of about 12.6 billion dollars (about 11.2 billion euros). This is a “conservative estimate” of the amount he received from the criminal drug business, the prosecution previously said.
The federal law allowing the death penalty was preemptively waived following an agreement between the US and Mexico, from which Guzmán was extradited after his arrest.
A new trial is denied for El Chapo
Before the sentence was announced, Guzmán was given the opportunity to speak. He said he was denied due process. Guzmán’s defenders until the end tried without success to restart the process. The background has to do with a media report, according to which members of the jury during the trial had followed the reporting on it. As a result, they were aware of prejudicial assumptions, which cannot be used in the process. However, a judge denied the defense’s request for a new trial.
According to him, the amount of evidence against the drug lord was still shocking.
Guzmán, who was nicknamed “El Chapo” (the short one) because of his 1.64-meter height, was found guilty in February in the largest trial in the history of drug crimes in the United States on all ten counts. charges – among others, for participation in a criminal organization, in the international production and distribution of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, as well as for money laundering and use of firearms.
The Mexican is considered the most powerful drug lord after the Colombian Pablo Escobar. He has been the boss of the infamous Sinaloa cartel for years. Mass drug smuggling, arms trade and money laundering were the main businesses of the 62-year-old, who, according to witnesses, among other things, recruited contract killers and was also active in murder and torture.
El Chapo is admired by many Mexicans – one purportedly his daughter sells a fashion line under his name.
54 witnesses testified in the voluminous process, among them former partners and associates as well as his ex-girlfriend. Most are also in US prisons. According to evidence, Guzmán has ordered kidnappings and murders of competitors or policemen, who does not accept bribes. The drug lord has about a hundred bodyguards, who are equipped with pistols, automatic weapons, grenades and even grenade launchers.
According to a witness, along with many others, he also paid millions in bribes to former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. Peña Nieto’s former chief of staff denied the allegations.
Guzmán is currently in a high-security prison in New York in the Manhattan area. He has previously managed to escape from Mexican prisons twice: In 2001 he escaped by getting into a laundry bin and in 2015 through a tunnel that his accomplices had opened to his cell.
He probably won’t have such a chance in the USA. Guzmán will likely be sent to a maximum security prison in the Rocky Mountains. “ADX Florence” prison in the federal state of Colorado is considered by some to be hell on earth due to the strict conditions of imprisonment. Built in 1994, the prison, according to Amnesty International (AI), specializes in the extreme isolation of prisoners.
Contact with other inmates, according to AI, they have only two hours a day during “rest” time, when inmates can do physical exercise. Those who are considered too dangerous even during these physical exercises are isolated in individual cages, no larger than 7.50 square meters.
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has repeatedly complained about the conditions of his sentence in a New York prison. He only managed to get a thicker blanket, but they didn’t grant his request for earplugs for peace of mind. In his statement before the announcement of the decision, the drug lord described his isolation in the US as a “psychological, emotional and mental torture”.