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Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo gets life in US prison

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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NEW YORK,United States(AFP) — Once one of the world's most powerful and notorious criminals, Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was jailed for life 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 variety of charges, including trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana to the United States.

The much-anticipated sentencing hearing in a New York courtroom caps 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 in Colorado for the rest of his days.

"Since the government of the United States is going to send me to a prison where they will never hear my name, I take this opportunity to tell them: there was no justice here," he said, wearing a gray suit, lilac shirt, purple tie and publicly sporting his mustache for the first time stateside.

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

US Federal Judge Brian Cogan tacked a symbolic 30 years on 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 courtroom in Brooklyn, 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 prior to leaving the room, he touched his heart and blew a kiss to his wife Emma Coronel, who wore a black and white suit and was perhaps seeing her husband for the last time.

Complaining bitterly that he was unable to hug his twin daughters, who did not attend the hearing, Guzman said that "the United States is no better than any other corrupt country that you do not respect."


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