NEW YORK — Joaquin Guzman, the Mexican drug lord best known as "El Chapo," was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison plus 30 years Wednesday morning at a federal courthouse in New York.
Guzman, 62, was convicted in February on several charges, including conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds and international distribution of drugs. Prosecutors said that as one of the leaders of the infamous Sinaloa cartel, Guzman ran "the world's largest and most prolific drug trafficking organization," according to The Washington Post.
Update 11:15 a.m. EDT July 17: Jeffrey Lichtman, an attorney for Guzman, on Wednesday accused jurors of lying to the judge about their exposure to media reports and told reporters that his client was denied a fair trial.
"Half the jury cheated," Lichtman said. "You can bury Joaquin Guzman under tons of steel in Colorado, and make him disappear, but you're never going to remove the stink from this verdict due to the failure to order a hearing on the misconduct of the jury in this case."
U.S District Judge Brian Cogan earlier Wednesday rejected a request from Guzman's attorneys to grant him a new trial based on a Vice News report that jurors improperly viewed media coverage of the highly publicized case. Cogan said allegations of juror misconduct were minor compared to the "mountain range of evidence" against Guzman.
"This sentence is significant and it is well deserved," U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue told reporters after Wednesday's verdict came down. "It means that never again will Guzman pour poison over our borders, making billions, while innocent lives are lost to drug violence and drug addiction."
Guzman is expected to be incarcerated for the rest of his life in a supermax federal prison in Florence, Colorado, according to CNN.
Update 10:25 a.m. EDT July 17: U.S. District Juge Brian Cogan handed down a sentence of life in prison plus 30 years for his February conviction in a sprawling drug-trafficking case, according to Reuters.
Guzman was brought to the U.S. to stand trial after he twice broke out of Mexican prisons. After hearing 11 weeks of testimony that described a multinational drug-smuggling enterprise that allegedly netted Guzman billions of dollars, jurors found Guzman guilty of 10 charges, triggering a mandatory sentence of life without parole.
Prosecutors said he was responsible for smuggling at least 200 tons of cocaine into the United States and for a wave of killings in turf wars with other cartels.
Guzman’s lawyers said he was framed.
Guzman’s attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan to grant him a new trial following a report that jurors improperly viewed media coverage of the highly publicized trial. Cogan denied that request.
One of Guzman's attorneys, William Purpura, told CNN earlier Wednesday that his client was "kept in horrific conditions for a long period of time."
Original report: Prosecutors told reporters in February they plan to seek a sentence of life without parole for Guzman, who famously escaped from two Mexican prisons, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"It is a sentence from which there is no escape," U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue told reporters in February, according to the Times.
Jurors in the Eastern District of New York in February heard 11 weeks of testimony that described a multinational, drug-smuggling enterprise that allegedly netted Guzman billions of dollars. Prosecutors said he was responsible for smuggling at least 200 tons of cocaine into the United States and for a wave of killings in turf wars with other cartels.
"He used trains, and he dug tunnels, and he used ships and planes," NPR reported. "There were submarines full of cocaine and cash going back and forth between Mexico and South America and the United States."
In a letter filed last week in court, prosecutors said evidence showed Guzman was "a ruthless and bloodthirsty leader of the Sinaloa cartel," which grew in influence "by wielding extraordinary violence, including kidnapping, torture and murder, as a tool to enforce discipline in its members and those who acted against the cartel's interests," prosecutors said.
Guzman's attorney argued his role in the Sinaloa cartel had been exaggerated and that Guzman was not the true leader of the criminal enterprise.
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