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Drug kingpin El Chapo sentenced to life in US prison

Updated July 18, 2019

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In this January 19, 2017, file photo provided by US law enforcement, authorities escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, center, from a plane to a waiting caravan of SUVs at Long Island MacArthur Airport, in Ronkonkoma, NY. — AP
In this January 19, 2017, file photo provided by US law enforcement, authorities escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, center, from a plane to a waiting caravan of SUVs at Long Island MacArthur Airport, in Ronkonkoma, NY. — AP

NEW YORK: Once one of the world’s most powerful and notorious criminals, Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was jailed for life on Wednesday — the mandatory sentence for a host of crimes spanning a quarter-century.

Guzman, the 62-year-old former co-leader of Mexico’s mighty Sinaloa drug cartel, was convicted in February in US federal court on a spate of charges, including smuggling hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States.

The much-anticipated hearing in New York capped a dramatic legal saga and saw Guzman deliver what will likely be his final public words before he is taken to a supermax federal prison to live out his days.

“There was no justice here,” he said, wearing a gray suit, lilac shirt, purple tie and publicly sporting his trademark mustache for the first time stateside.

The charges, which also include money laundering and weapons-related offences, carried a mandatory life sentence.

US Federal Judge Brian Cogan tacked a symbolic 30 years onto the sentence and ordered Guzman to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture — an amount based on a conservative estimate of revenues from his cartel’s drug sales in the United States. So far, US authorities have not recovered a dime.

In the Brooklyn courtroom, Guzman said prayers from his supporters had given him “strength to endure this great torture,” which he said has been “one of the most inhuman that I have ever experienced... a lack of respect for my human dignity.” When entering and before leaving the room, he touched his heart and blew a kiss to his wife Emma Coronel, who wore a black and white suit and potentially saw her husband for the last time.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2019