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'El Chapo' Sentenced To Life In Prison And Will Forfeit $12.6 Billion

Notorious drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán found out his fate today as he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

After being convicted on all 10 drugs and firearms related charges he faced, including one that carried a mandatory life sentence, a federal judge in Brooklyn sentenced the 62-year-old Guzmán to life plus 30 years, as well as ordering him to forfeit $12.6 billion.

For decades, Guzmán headed up the Mexican Sinaloa cartel, and he twice escaped from prison.

After being recaptured from his second escape in 2016, Mexican authorities agreed to extradite Guzmán to the United States to face trial for his many crimes on the condition that he not face the death penalty, NPR reported.

During a dramatic 12-week trial, the jury took about 34 hours over six days to convict Guzmán back in February.

The trial, which partly took place during a government shutdown over funding for a border wall, heard testimony from several former Sinaloa cartel members who described techniques that no wall could have stopped, from using fishing boats and trains to radar-evading planes, submarines, passenger cars at points of entry, oil tankers, and cross-border tunnels, CNN reported.

All of it was helped along by bribes at nearly every level of Mexican government.

The prosecutors welcomed the lengthy sentence.

"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 Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski.

"This sentence is significant and it is well deserved. It means that never again will Guzmán pour poison over our borders, making billions, while innocent lives are lost to drug violence and drug addiction," added Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

It's expected that Guzmán will serve out his sentence in the Supemax in Florence, Colorado.

However, Guzmán's attorneys say they're discussing an appeal. Despite the mountain of evidence against Guzmán, he and his defense team maintain that he was denied a fair trial.

"This case was simply an inquisition. It was a show trial, and how it ended is exactly perfect for that description," defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said. He described the prosecution's witnesses as "lunatics and sociopaths and psychopaths" and suggested that "up to five jurors broke the law — violated the law while they were judging Mr. Guzmán for crimes."

On the heels of the verdict, one anonymous juror went to Vice News and reported several instances of jury misconduct.

The juror said that during the trial, the jury had followed news reports despite being expressly forbidden from doing so and had lied to the judge about seeing media reports.

In light of that, Guzmán's defense team demanded a new trial.

However, the judge denied the defense team's demands.

After remaining silent during his trial, Guzmán finally spoke at his sentencing hearing to dispute the verdict.

"There was no justice here," he said through a translator. "You didn’t want to bring the jury back. You allege that the action of the jury was not important because there was a lot of evidence against me.

"Why did we go to trial? Why not sentence me the first day? The jury was not necessary then."

Guzmán also took issue with the conditions he'd been held in.

"It's been torture, the most inhumane situation I have lived in my entire life," he said. "It has been physical, emotional and mental torture."

Lichtman emphasized that the fairness of the trial was the big concern.

"I'm not here to tell you that Joaquín Guzmán is a saint," he said outside the courthouse. "All we asked for was fairness. And no matter what you think of Joaquín Guzmán, he still deserves a fair trial."

He also added that the government is unlikely to recover the $12.6 billion. "When they get to dollar 1, wake me up. Right now, there are zero (dollars). So, I don't know that we're really ever going to see anything with that. It's a fiction."

h/t CNN, NPR