Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the notorious Mexican drug lord whose small stature earned him the nickname El Chapo and vicious temper earned him the reputation as the world’s most ruthless gangster, was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday.
Last February, Guzmán was convicted on ten counts related to his decades as a drug kingpin. The life sentence comes with an additional 30 years, no possibility of parole, and an order to forfeit $12.6 billion to the U.S. government.
“Mr. Guzmán thought for more than 25 years that he was untouchable, that there was no problem affecting the Sinaloa cartel that he couldn’t bribe, intimidate, torture or kill his way out of,” said Brian Benczkowski, an assistant U.S. attorney general. His sentencing “brings a measure of justice” to his victims on both sides of the border, said Benczkowski.
Guzman’s lawyers, meanwhile, argued that the trial was unfair. “It was a show trial, and how it ended is exactly perfect for that description,” said defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman.
Guzman, who was silent during the entirety of his trial, spoke in court for the first time Wednesday. He complained about the conditions in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan, where he’s been locked up in solitary confinement since 2017.
“I’ve been forced to drink unsanitary water. I’ve been denied access to fresh air and sunlight. The only air I have in my cell comes through in the air vent.
“In order to sleep, I have to clog my ears with toilet paper because of the air from the air duct,” he groused. “My wife has not been allowed to this day to visit me, I have not been allowed to hug my daughters.
“It has been physical, emotional and mental torture.”
He shouldn’t expect things to get much better. Guzman is likely headed to Colorado to serve out his sentence in the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado. The supermax prison is known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” and is the most secure prison in the country — a fitting home for a known escape artist.
Along with being highly secure, the prison is known for its brutality. As a former warden once told the New York Times, it is “not designed for humanity.”