NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – It was sentencing day for notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
The man who twice escaped from Mexican prisons will now spend the rest of his life behind bars at a supermax facility in the United States.
He was also ordered to pay $12.6 billion in forfeitures.
But he’s not going silently.
Before being sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years, Guzman broke his silence.
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Before learning his sentence, he spent 15 minutes complaining to a judge about living conditions in jail, including unsanitary water and no sunlight.
“You denied me a fair trial. The U.S. is not better than any other country they don’t respect,” Guzman said in Spanish through an interpreter.
He also thanked his family for giving him “the strength to bear this torture that I have been under for the past 30 months.” He looked at his family after the sentencing and placed his hand on his heart.
Federal prosecutors called it justice for the American people and Mexico. But his defense attorney said it was a “show trial.”
“You’re never going to remove the stink from this verdict due to the failure to order a hearing on the misconduct of the jury in this case,” said defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman.
Sporting a moustache, the notorious drug kingpin waved to his 30-year-old wife in the courtroom, and blew kisses.
There was high security outside as the mother of their twin daughters left court looking down.
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Prosecutors said Guzman shipped enough cocaine that every U.S. citizen would have their own line of it.
“The long road that let Chapo Guzman from the mountains of Sinaloa to the courthouse behind us today was paved with death, drugs and destruction, but it ended today with justice,” said Brian Benczkowski, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s criminal division.
Guzman was convicted in February on all 10 federal criminal counts against him in his drug trafficking case. During the 11-week trial, prosecutors said he earned nearly $14 billion as the alleged kingpin of the Sinaloa drug cartel during his 25-year reign. He used planes, trains, automobiles and even submarines to funnel hundreds of tons of cocaine and other drugs into the U.S.
Prosecutors also said his “army of sicarios” was under orders to kidnap, torture and murder anyone who got in his way.
The U.S. attorney said the sentencing sends a message to anyone who tries to copy him.
“It means that never again will Guzman pour poison over our borders making billions while innocent lives are lost,” Richard Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said.
Guzman, who had been protected in Mexico by an army of gangsters and an elaborate corruption operation, was brought to the U.S. to stand trial after he twice escaped from Mexican prisons.
The 62-year-old has been largely cut off from the outside world since his extradition in 2017.
Wary of his history of escaping from Mexican prisons, U.S. authorities have kept him in solitary confinement in an ultra-secure unit at a Manhattan jail and under close guard at his appearances at the Brooklyn courthouse where his case unfolded.
Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado, known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” Most inmates at Supermax are given a television, but their only actual view of the outside world is a 4-inch window. They have minimal interaction with other people and eat all their meals in their cells.
While the trial was dominated by Guzman’s persona as a near-mythical outlaw who carried a diamond-encrusted handgun and stayed one step ahead of the law, the jury never heard from Guzman himself, except when he told the judge he wouldn’t testify.
But evidence at Guzman’s trial suggested his decision to stay quiet at the defense table was against his nature: Cooperating witnesses told jurors he was a fan of his own rags-to-riches narco story, always eager to find an author or screenwriter to tell it. He famously gave an interview to American actor Sean Penn while he was a fugitive, hiding in the mountains after accomplices built a long tunnel to help him escape from a Mexican prison.
There also were reports Guzman was itching to testify in his own defense until his attorneys talked him out of it, making his sentencing a last chance to seize the spotlight.
His attorneys plan to appeal.
Guzman is believed to have been married three times, and has either 12 or 13 children.
In 2009, Guzman appeared on the Forbes list of billionaires worldwide, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion.
He got his start in the 1960s planting marijuana with his cousins.
In 2015, Guzman said in an interview with actor Sean Penn published in Rolling Stone magazine that he supplies more heroin, cocaine and marijuana than anyone else in the world.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)