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BANGKOK 19 August 2019 06:44
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U.S. judge blasts drug lord El Chapo's 'overwhelming evil,' imposes life sentence

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U.S. judge blasts drug lord El Chapo's 'overwhelming evil,' imposes life sentence

By Brendan Pierson and Jonathan Stempel

 

2019-07-17T150707Z_2_LYNXNPEF6G0QN_RTROPTP_4_MEXICO-GUZMAN-USA.JPG

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman (L) is escorted by soldiers during a presentation at the Navy's airstrip in Mexico City February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the Mexican drug lord who twice escaped maximum-security prisons in that country, will spend the rest of his life in a U.S. penitentiary, a federal judge said on Wednesday after accusing him of "overwhelming evil."

 

Guzman, 62, berated the U.S. justice system, and a former associate described how he had paid a gang $1 million to try to kill her before U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan imposed the mandatory sentence of life plus 30 years.

 

Cogan also ordered Guzman to forfeit $12.6 billion in a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn.

 

The judge said that even if the law had allowed him any leeway, he would have imposed the harshest sentence available, adding that any redeeming qualities Guzman might have were erased by his "overwhelming evil" actions.

 

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the Mexican drug lord who twice escaped maximum-security prisons in that country, will spend the rest of his life in a U.S. penitentiary, a federal judge said on Wednesday. Jillian Kitchener has more.

 

A jury in February convicted Guzman of trafficking tons of cocaine, heroin and marijuana and engaging in multiple murder conspiracies as a top leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, long known as one of Mexico's largest, most violent drug trafficking organizations.

 

Guzman, whose nickname means "Shorty," developed a reputation as a Robin Hood-like figure that made him a folk hero to many in his home state of Sinaloa, where he was born in a poor mountain village.

 

He has been held in solitary confinement in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a fortress-like jail in lower Manhattan. Cogan last month rejected Guzman's request for more time to exercise on the jail's roof, after prosecutors said that would risk an escape.

 

Guzman, who recently grew a mustache, complained about the terms of his confinement before his sentence was handed down.

"It has been psychological, emotional, mental torture 24 hours a day," said Guzman. He alleged that the jurors on his case allowed media accounts of the trial to influence their thinking - an argument his lawyers have also made.

 

"Since the government of the United States is going to send me to a prison where my name will not ever be heard again, I take advantage of this opportunity to say there was no justice here," he told the court.

 

'NEVER AGAIN'

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.

 

"Never again will Guzman pour poison over our border, making billions while innocent lives are lost to drug violence and addiction," U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue told a news conference outside the Brooklyn courthouse. "We can ensure that he spends every minute of every day of the rest of his life in prison."

 

Guzman made a name for himself 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 often-bloody wars with rivals, eventually becoming the Sinaloa Cartel's best-known leader.

 

His 11-week trial, which featured testimony from more than a dozen former associates who had made deals to cooperate with prosecutors, offered an unprecedented look at the cartel's inner workings.

 

Andrea Velez, a former associate of Guzman, said on Wednesday that Guzman had paid the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang $1 million to have her killed, and that she had escaped with the help of U.S. authorities.

 

"I confess that I sinned, but I paid a high price for my faults," Velez said of her work with the cartel.

 

The trial witnesses, who included some of Guzman's top lieutenants, a communications engineer and a onetime mistress, described how he built a sophisticated organization resembling a multinational corporation.

 

He sent drugs northward with fleets of planes and boats, and had detailed accounting ledgers and an encrypted electronic communication system run through secret computer servers in Canada, witnesses said.

 

U.S. prosecutors have claimed that Guzman sold more than $12 billion worth of drugs, and Forbes magazine once listed him as one of the world's richest men.

 

Guzman often lived on the run. Imprisoned in Mexico in 1993, he escaped in 2001 hidden in a laundry cart and spent the following years moving from one hideout to another in the mountains of Sinaloa, guarded by a private army.

 

He was seized again in 2014, but pulled off his best known escape the following year when he disappeared into a ventilated, mile-long (1.6-km) tunnel dug into his cell in a maximum-security prison.

 

He was finally recaptured in January 2016. The Mexican government says he blew his cover through a series of slip-ups, including an attempt to make a movie about his life.

 

Guzman's lawyers have said they intend to appeal his guilty verdict, citing a report that jurors disobeyed court rules by reading news reports about the case during the trial.

 

Despite Guzman's downfall, the Sinaloa Cartel had the biggest U.S. distribution presence of Mexican cartels as of last year, followed by the fast-growing Jalisco New Generation Cartel, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

 

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson and Jonathan Stempel in New York, additional reporting by Matthew Lavietes in New York; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-07-18

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Nice catch KB. And in a way, Mexico a Mexican would be paying for it.

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Good. I hope the opioid dealers in Big Pharma will receive the same sentence. Not holding my breath though.

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7 hours ago, webfact said:

Cogan also ordered Guzman to forfeit $12.6 billion in a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn.

😂😂😂 the cheque’s in the mail... along with the 500 Million from North Korea relating to Otto Warmbier’s death

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2 hours ago, spidermike007 said:

Guzman, and all of the other drug lords would not be given the opportunity to be the men they are, if the failed war on drugs was not taking place to begin with. The US is solely responsible for nearly all of the drug related violence in Mexico, Central and South America, not the mention the crimes committed against drug users by American police, SWAT teams, the DEA, and the like. The war on drugs was lost a long time ago. They are intercepting less than 1% of what is shipped. The police in the US would probably be far less militarized, if they did not have to combat drugs. 

 

What is my solution? Legalize all drugs. From ganga to heroin. The cartels disappear within 30 days. Violence drops, and drug use drops dramatically, due to the easy availability, and the lack of desire on the part of many users, now that it is legal. Hollywood stops using drugs. Why would you want to use them if they are legal? No fun anymore. 

 

If something does not work, the epitome of foolishness is to continue doing it, spending billions on it, and not change anything. Dumb and dumber. 

 

Another added benefit? Violence in Central America goes way down, and the number of people seeking asylum in the US drops dramatically. I understand this solution might be too creative for the men of modest intelligence in the White House. But, it is the probably scenario, if they walked away from a 40 year old policy, that has been an utter and complete failure. 

Too many assumptions here.  Sure drugs could be legalized, but there is a reason they are hard core drugs (not medicinal type marijuana).  Don't forget the health care costs to take care of all new drug addicts and associated crime ala black/grey market to bypass government regulations.   This doesn't include social damages of broken homes, underage drug use, etc.   Of course, perhaps its best to run some studies and beta trials for certain cities like how marijuana was rolled out by states to see the overall net effects of legalization.  However, history is not on the side of hard core drugs (cocaine, opium, etc.) wherever the root cause may be.

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The so called war on drugs is no more than political smoke. I worked 2 years in Guadalajara in the early 90s. Nothing but a smokescreen. Kiki is turning over in his grave, sadly.

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57 minutes ago, reefsurfah said:

Too many assumptions here.  Sure drugs could be legalized, but there is a reason they are hard core drugs (not medicinal type marijuana).  Don't forget the health care costs to take care of all new drug addicts and associated crime ala black/grey market to bypass government regulations.   This doesn't include social damages of broken homes, underage drug use, etc.   Of course, perhaps its best to run some studies and beta trials for certain cities like how marijuana was rolled out by states to see the overall net effects of legalization.  However, history is not on the side of hard core drugs (cocaine, opium, etc.) wherever the root cause may be.

Wrong.  History is on the side of the drug users.  Check it out.  They have only been illegal for a few short years.  There used to be 1000 opium bars in Bangkok before WWII and everyone used it after dinner.    

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4 hours ago, spidermike007 said:

Guzman, and all of the other drug lords would not be given the opportunity to be the men they are, if the failed war on drugs was not taking place to begin with. The US is solely responsible for nearly all of the drug related violence in Mexico, Central and South America, not the mention the crimes committed against drug users by American police, SWAT teams, the DEA, and the like. The war on drugs was lost a long time ago. They are intercepting less than 1% of what is shipped. The police in the US would probably be far less militarized, if they did not have to combat drugs. 

 

What is my solution? Legalize all drugs. From ganga to heroin. The cartels disappear within 30 days. Violence drops, and drug use drops dramatically, due to the easy availability, and the lack of desire on the part of many users, now that it is legal. Hollywood stops using drugs. Why would you want to use them if they are legal? No fun anymore. 

 

If something does not work, the epitome of foolishness is to continue doing it, spending billions on it, and not change anything. Dumb and dumber. 

 

Another added benefit? Violence in Central America goes way down, and the number of people seeking asylum in the US drops dramatically. I understand this solution might be too creative for the men of modest intelligence in the White House. But, it is the probably scenario, if they walked away from a 40 year old policy, that has been an utter and complete failure. 

So, using your theory, if we want to stop murders, all we have to do is "legalize" it. Actually, the democrats are trying to do that now; eliminate all crime by eliminating law enforcement. Typical liberal solution.

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4 minutes ago, howbri said:

So, using your theory, if we want to stop murders, all we have to do is "legalize" it. Actually, the democrats are trying to do that now; eliminate all crime by eliminating law enforcement. Typical liberal solution.

Has anybody claimed that decriminalizing drug use means addicts will stop using them? 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, bristolboy said:

Has anybody claimed that decriminalizing drug use means addicts will stop using them? 

Who cares?  When drugs were legal they were not a big problem.  See the world before (approximately) WWII.  Not such a bad place.  

Edited by marcusarelus

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