On Thursday, a day after the former head of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced to life plus 30 years in a New York courtroom, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, complained to reporters that “a sentence for life in a hostile jail, is hard and inhumane.”
The Mexico City based newspaper, Reforma reported President López Obrador, as saying:
I am very sorry that these cases occur, I do not want anyone to be in jail, that no one be in a hospital, that no one suffer (…) I hope this does not happen anymore, that all Mexicans have the possibility of being happy, without engaging in illicit acts, without exposing ourselves, without living with the risks that are run when acting outside the law.
It is also a tragic life to have a family and not be able to see it, maybe this is not life, and when all those things that happen end in sentences, like this, a sentence that a person is to be in prison for life, in a hostile prison, it is harsh, inhumane.
In February, Guzman was convicted on federal charges of being a principal operator of a continuing criminal enterprise (that includes 26 drug-related violations and one murder conspiracy). The leader of the Sinaloa Cartel was convicted of all 10 counts of another federal indictment, including narcotics trafficking, using a firearm in furtherance of his drug crimes and money laundering.
A few highlights from a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) press release on Guzman’s many crimes follow:
-The evidence at trial, including testimony from 14 cooperating witnesses; narcotics seizures totaling over 130,000 kilograms of cocaine and heroin; weapons, including AK-47s and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher; ledgers; text messages; videos; photographs and intercepted recordings, detailed the drug trafficking activity of Guzman and his co-conspirators over a 25-year period from January 1989 until December 2014.
-In the course of the decades-long drug trafficking conspiracy, the Sinaloa Cartel transported tens of thousands of kilograms of narcotics from Central and South America for distribution in the United States…One of the largest seizures of drugs bound for the United States involved over seven tons of cocaine concealed in jalapeño cans.
-A former hitman testified that Guzman beat two men with a tree branch until their bodies “were completely like rag dolls,” before shooting the men and ordering their bodies be tossed into a bonfire.
-Guzman’s lucrative drug trafficking business generated billions of dollars in illicit proceeds. Guzman used various methods to launder money including bulk cash smuggling from the United States to Mexico. One of the largest seizures was of $1.26 million seized from hidden compartments in a truck driven by Guzman’s brother in Douglas, Arizona in 1989. In addition to the bulk cash smuggling, Guzman oversaw numerous shell companies, including a juice company and a fish flour company to launder the cartel’s narcotics trafficking proceeds.
Immediately following his sentencing, heavily armed federal agents whisked Guzman into an awaiting helicopter, then onto a plane, with his ultimate destination being the ADX Supemax Prison in Florence, Colorado. There, he will spend 23 hours a day inside a 12’x 7′ cell, without any interaction with fellow prisoners.
It is hard to imagine anyone, let alone the elected leader of a nation expressing outrage over a life sentence for someone as murderous as Joaquin Guzman, but, it only further demonstrates the complete power the drug cartels have over Mexico and its corrupt politicians.