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El Chapo sentence: Joaquin Guzman gets life in US prison

Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been sentenced to life behind bars in a US prison, a humbling end for a drug lord once notorious for his ability to kill, bribe or tunnel his way out of trouble.

A federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, handed down the sentence five months after Guzman’s conviction in an epic drug trafficking case.

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In this January 19, 2017, file photo provided by U.S. law enforcement, authorities escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, to jail. Picture: AP
media_cameraIn this January 19, 2017, file photo provided by U.S. law enforcement, authorities escort Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, to jail. Picture: AP

The 62-year-old, who had been protected in Mexico by an army of gangsters and an elaborate corruption operation, was brought to the US to stand trial after he twice escaped from Mexican prisons.

US District Judge Brian Cogan also ordered Guzman to pay $US12.6 billion ($A18 billion) in ill-gotten proceeds – money his drug-trafficking organisation made distributing cocaine and other drugs around the US.

Microphones are set up outside Brooklyn Federal Court for Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's sentencing, in New York. Picture: AFP
media_cameraMicrophones are set up outside Brooklyn Federal Court for Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s sentencing, in New York. Picture: AFP

Guzman told the court before his sentencing that his case was “stained” by juror misconduct.

“My case was stained and you denied me a fair trial when the whole world was watching,” Guzman said in court through an interpreter. “When I was extradited to the United States, I expected to have a fair trial, but what happened was exactly the opposite.”

Guzman’s lawyers had asked Mr Cogan to grant him a new trial following a report that jurors improperly viewed media coverage of the highly publicised trial. Mr Cogan denied that request.

Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman (L). Picture: AFP
media_cameraMexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman (L). Picture: AFP

He also complained about the conditions of his confinement in New York, saying he had been subjected to “cruel and inhumane” treatment.

Guzman has been largely cut off from the outside world since his extradition in 2017 and his remarks in the courtroom could be the last time the public hears from him.

He thanked his family for giving him “the strength to bear this torture that I have been under for the past 30 months”.

Earlier, Guzman’s wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, arrived for her husband’s sentencing with security guards.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, wife of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, is surrounded by security as she arrives at federal court in New York City. Picture: Getty
media_cameraEmma Coronel Aispuro, wife of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is surrounded by security as she arrives at federal court in New York City. Picture: Getty

Ms Coronel regularly attended Guzman’s proceedings even when testimony cast her in a harsh light.

Wary of his history of escaping from Mexican prisons, US authorities have kept him in solitary confinement in an ultra-secure unit at a Manhattan jail. Guzman has also been kept under close guard at his appearances at the Brooklyn courthouse where his case unfolded.

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies”.

This is the 50cm-by-50cm hole at the base of El Chapo's shower that he used to escape. Picture: Supplied
media_cameraThis is the 50cm-by-50cm hole at the base of El Chapo’s shower that he used to escape. Picture: Supplied

That lockup houses some of the most notorious criminals ever to set foot in an American courtroom.

The 62-year-old Guzman was convicted in February on multiple conspiracy counts in an epic drug-trafficking case.

Prosecutors say evidence showed that under Guzman’s orders, the Sinaloa cartel was responsible for multiple murders and for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign.

Joaquin Guzman Loera, aka "el Chapo Guzman". Picture: AFP
media_cameraJoaquin Guzman Loera, aka “el Chapo Guzman”. Picture: AFP

Originally published as What El Chapo said at sentencing

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