Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman Sentenced to Life in Prison

Five months after Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was found guilty in U.S. court, the notorious drug lord was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years on Wednesday. The court also ordered him to pay $12.6 billion in forfeit.

The leader of the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel was found guilty on 10 federal charges, including murder conspiracies, running a continuing criminal enterprise and other drug-related charges. He spoke in the courtroom before the sentencing on Wednesday, saying incarceration was "physical, emotional and mental torture" and "the most inhumane situation I have lived in my entire life."

One of his defense attorneys, Jeffrey Lichtman, said the trial was "not justice," alleging that it became an unfair trial when the judge denied Guzman's request for a hearing to investigate possible juror misconduct, CNN reports.

"All he wanted, and he said to me from day one, 'I just want a fair trial. You tell me that I can get justice here, I just want a fair trial.' And at the end of the day, we like to pretend that it was justice — it was not justice," Lichtman said. "You can't have a situation where jurors are running around lying, lying to a judge, lying to a judge about what they were doing and learning about allegations that were purposely kept out by the government," he said.

But Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, called the sentencing "a measure of justice," adding that Guzman won't be able to "pour poison over our borders."

"This sentence is significant and it is well deserved. 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," Donoghue said, adding a warning to other would-be drug lords.

"The same fate awaits anyone who would seek to take his place," he said.

The 62-year-old is expected to be transported to the Supermax federal facility in Colorado, which is the same facility where the Unabomber and Boston bomber are currently serving out their sentences.


Before he was finally captured in 2016, Guzman twice escaped maximum-security prisons in Mexico. He was extradited to the United States to face trial in January 2017.

Guzman started out as a trafficker in the 1980s by digging tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border that allowed him to smuggle drugs more quickly than his rivals. He amassed power during the 1990s and 2000s through wars with rivals, eventually becoming the Sinaloa Cartel's best-known leader.