Notorious Drug Lord, El Chapo Sentenced to Life in Prison

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SWITZERLAND, JULY 17 – Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo, was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison, ending one of modern history’s most brutal and notorious criminal careers.

The life sentence, mandated by law as a result of the severity of Mr. Guzmán’s crimes, was handed down in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, where the kingpin was convicted last winter of drug, murder and money laundering charges after a sprawling three-month trial.

As some of the federal agents who had chased him for years looked on from the gallery, Judge Brian M. Cogan issued the life term and Mr. Guzmán, 62, was hauled away to prepare himself — pending an appeal — for spending the rest of his life behind bars.

He almost certainly will be sent to the country’s most forbidding federal prison, the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, or ADX, in Florence, Colo.

“It’s justice not only for the Mexican government, but for all of Guzmán’s victims in Mexico,” said Raymond P. Donovan, the agent in charge of the New York office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, which was instrumental in capturing the kingpin twice. Mr. Guzman’s career atop one of Mexico’s most powerful cartels came to a close only after Mexico agreed to extradite him to the United States in January 2017.

His ability to escape from prison and evade capture for years underscored the deep corruption of the Mexican authorities by his cartel, which employed bribery and intimidation to control not just local police departments, but the highest ranking officials in the national government.

Mr. Guzmán’s trial took place under intense media scrutiny and tight security that involved bomb-sniffing dogs, police snipers and federal marshals with radiation sensors.

Prosecutors leveled some of the most serious charges possible against him, presenting evidence that he sent hundreds of tons of drugs to the United States from Mexico and caused the deaths of dozens of people to protect himself and his smuggling routes.

The case revealed in exacting detail the inner workings of the Sinaloa drug cartel — such as how it employed I.T. consultants and how it packaged its cocaine in rubber “condoms.”

But given the defendant’s fame and notoriety, the trial was also a boisterous legal circus, complete with a horde of international reporters, a steady trickle of curious “narco-tourists” and a cameo appearance by an actor who plays the drug lord on a Netflix show.

The verdict on Feb. 12 came after more than a week of deliberations by the jury. Ultimately, Mr. Guzmán was found guilty on all 10 counts of the indictment.

As the verdict was read, he sat listening to a translator, looking stunned. When the reading of the verdict was complete, Mr. Guzmán leaned back to glance at his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, who flashed him a thumbs up with tears in her eyes.

The American authorities began their hunt for the kingpin as far back as the early 1990s when he was indicted on separate federal charges in Tucson and San Diego.

The two indictments were filed just before and somewhat after he was arrested while on the run in Guatemala and then returned to Mexico, where he was tried and imprisoned for the 1993 murder of Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, a beloved Roman Catholic cardinal.

In 2001, however, Mr. Guzmán broke out of prison — by many accounts, in the bottom of a laundry cart — and spent the next 13 years playing cat-and-mouse with the law.

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