By Jon Dougherty

(NationalSentinel) A federal judge has sentenced the notorious Mexican drug cartel kingpin Joquin “El Chapo” Guzman to life in prison plus 30 years for illegal activities related to his leadership of the organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel.

U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan mandated that the sentences are to run concurrent, meaning there is little-to-no chance that Guzman — save for a commutation of his sentence at some point — will ever leave prison.

According to a Justice Department press release, Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, known by various aliases, including “El Chapo” and “El Rapido,” was sentenced on a charge that includes 26 drug-related violations and one murder conspiracy.  The Court also ordered Guzman Loera to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture.

Guzman Loera was convicted by a federal jury on Feb. 12, 2019, after a three-month trial, on all 10 counts of the superseding indictment, including narcotics trafficking, use of a firearm in furtherance of his drug crimes and participating in a money-laundering conspiracy.

In the 1980s and 1990s Guzman was essentially a mid-level drug courier for the Colombian cartels, earning him the nickname “El Rapido” because he was a fast smuggler.

He was arrested and jailed by Mexican authorities but escaped in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart (with assistance, reports noted at the time).

After his escape, Guzman began his own drug-running empire, partnering with fugitive co-defendant Ismael Zambada Garcia. Together they “became the preeminent leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel.  Guzman Loera enforced his will and maintained control of his drug empire through an army of lethal bodyguards and a sophisticated communications network,” the Justice Department’s press released noted.

The DoJ also noted the diverse methods employed by the Sinaloa Cartel to smuggle drugs into the U.S.:

The trial highlighted the methods Guzman Loera and his organization used to transport the cartel’s multi-ton shipments of narcotics into the United States, including fishing boats, submarines, carbon fiber airplanes, trains with secret compartments and transnational underground tunnels.  Once the narcotics were in the United States, they were sold to wholesale distributors in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Arizona, Los Angeles and elsewhere. 

Guzman Loera then used various methods to launder billions of dollars of drug proceeds, including bulk cash smuggling from the United States to Mexico, U.S.-based insurance companies, reloadable debit cards and numerous shell companies, including a juice company and a fish flour company.

Guzman was known to use lots of violence to impose his will and maintain power and control.

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“Numerous co-conspirators testified that Guzman Loera directed his hitmen to kidnap, interrogate, torture and slaughter members of rival drug organizations, at times carrying out acts of violence himself,” the Justice Department said.

“As part of its arsenal, the Sinaloa Cartel had access to weapons, including grenades and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Guzman Loera’s personal arsenal included a gold plated AK-47 and three diamond-encrusted .38 caliber handguns, one emblazoned with his initials, ‘JGL,'” the department noted.

“The long road that brought ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Loera to a United States courtroom is lined with drugs, death, and destruction, but ends today with justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

“Thanks to the unflagging efforts of the Department of Justice and the law enforcement community over the past 25 years, this notorious leader of one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in the Western hemisphere, the Sinaloa Cartel, will spend the rest of his life behind bars.”

The case was investigated by the DEA, ICE HSI and the FBI, in cooperation with Mexican, Ecuadorian, Netherlands, Dominican and Colombian law enforcement authorities, DoJ said.

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