El Chapo Complains About 'Inhumane' Prison Conditions At His Sentencing
Brooklyn, NY – Infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman complained to a federal judge about the alleged “torture” he has endured in “corrupt” U.S. lockup, just prior to being sentenced to life plus 30 years in prison on Wednesday.
The once-powerful Sinaloa cartel leader has been in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center since he was arrested in 2017, the New York Post reported.
In February, the drug kingpin was convicted for his role in a violent, massive drug-trafficking empire that funneled billions of dollars’ worth of illegal drugs into the U.S. for nearly three decades.
Prosecutors estimated that Guzman was responsible for shipping over 200 tons of cocaine to the U.S. during that time, and said he had also carried out a slew of brutal murders and political payoffs, NBC News reported.
A federal jury found Guzman, 62, guilty of multiple counts, including use of firearms, operating and continuing a criminal enterprise, and conspiracy to import and distribute marijuana, heroin, and cocaine, the New York Post reported at the time.
During his sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Guzman complained to Brooklyn Federal Judge Brian Cogan about the supposed “physical, emotional, and mental torture,” he has suffered since being extradited to the U.S.
His attorney, Eduardo Balarezo, translated Guzman’s statement for the court.
“In order to sleep, I have to clog my ears with toilet paper because of the air from the air duct,” the drug lord whined. “My wife has not been allowed to this day to visit me. I have not been allowed to hug my daughters.”
“I’ve been forced to drink unsanitary water,” he lamented. “I’ve been denied access to fresh air and sunlight. The only sunlight I have in my cell comes through in the air vent.”
Guzman alleged that he did not receive a fair trial, and said that several of the jury members who found him guilty had violated the court’s order not to read social media or news reports about the charges against him, the New York Post reported.
“You didn’t want to question the jury, so what you did was you alleged the actions of the jurors were not important because there was a lot of evidence against me,” Guzman told the judge. “If that was the case, why did we go to trial? The jury was not necessary then. Why didn’t you just sentence me [immediately]?”
“I was extradited to the US to have a fair trial, where justice would be blind to my fame and would not be a defining factor in the administration of justice,” he complained. “But what happened was actually the opposite.”
Guzman told the court that “there was no justice” in his case, which he said was “stained” by corruption.
“You denied me a fair trial while the whole world was watching,” the former cartel leader declared. “The United States is no better than any other corrupt country.”
Moments later, Cogan imposed the minimum sentence of life in prison, plus 30 years for unlawful use of firearms.
He also ordered Guzman to forfeit $12.6 billion, plus restitution that will be determined at a future hearing.
Guzman, who escaped from prison in Mexico twice before being extradited to the U.S., is expected to be relocated to a supermax prison facility in Colorado to serve his life sentence.
His attorney said he plans to appeal his conviction, ABC News reported.
According to InSight Crime, a nonprofit investigative group backed by university and government dollars, Guzman’s arrest has done little to curb the Sinaloa cartel’s reign of terror in Mexico, NBC News reported.
“Without El Chapo, the Sinaloa Cartel has hardly faltered despite the arrest of some of the group's top leaders and some other important members," InSight said in October of 2018.
"The Sinaloa Cartel has a horizontal structure with decision-making authority spread throughout the organization, as opposed to a vertical structure with just one or a few key members calling the shots," the group explained.
Ismael Zambada Garcia, 71, has stepped into Guzman’s leadership role, and is currently wanted by the U.S. on charges of kidnapping, illegal use of firearms, money laundering, drug trafficking, racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, and murder committed in furtherance of a drug conspiracy.