Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán sentenced to Life in Prison

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Joaquín Guzmán Loera, commonly referred to as “El Chapo” has been sentenced to life plus 30 years in a U.S. maximum-security prison by US District Judge Brian Cogan during a hearing at a federal court on Wednesday July 17th in Brooklyn, New York.

This is the third incarceration for Guzmán, 62, who was previously sentenced to 20 years and 9 months in a Mexican prison in 1993 for criminal association, bribery and drug trafficking, before his escape in 2001. He was not recaptured by US police until 2014, following a 13-year manhunt. Even after being recaptured by police in 2014, Guzmán was able to escape after just 1 year and 4 months, with another manhunt being launched for the cartel leader in July 2015.  

In February 2019, Guzmán was found guilty of 10 federal charges. These included one count of Engaging in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, one count of Cocaine Importation Conspiracy, one count of Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy and 4 counts of International Distribution of Cocaine.

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Guzmán (pictured above in 1993) claimed that the solitary confinement in which he was kept during his 13-month long stay in the Manhattan Metropolitan Correction Centre was “torture 24 hours a day” and that he would vomit almost every day.” In April this year, his wife, Emma Coronel, spoke to reporters, arguing that this treatment may have hindered his trial, stating “how is he going to get to trial if his health is not good.” However, as the hearing went ahead, it can be assumed that his health was not seen to be a barrier to attaining justice for a man responsible for such hurt and devastation as a result of his cartel’s activities.

‘El Chapo’ is considered to be the most powerful drug trafficker in the world, following a criminal career lasting almost 50 years. In 1989, aged 32, Guzmán became the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, renowned for being one of the most violent organisations within Mexico, with Guzmán claiming that he himself had killed between 2000 and 3000 people. The proceeds made by the cartel led to Guzmán making an appearance on the Forbes’ billionaires list for 4 years in a row from 2009 to 2012 .

It has not yet been confirmed which prison Guzmán will spend his sentence, so now the question on everyone’s mind is: how long will he stay there? Following two previous successful prison breaks, one must ask whether another American maximum-security facility can prevent Guzmán’s seemingly unbeatable ability to escape.

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