US court rejects Mexican drug lord ‘El Chapo’s’ life sentence appeal

NEW YORK – A U.S. court has rejected the appeal of former Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, who sought a review of the 2019 ruling that sentenced him to life in prison.

Guzman led the Sinaloa cartel for years and was considered one of the most powerful drug traffickers in the world. He escaped from Mexican prisons twice and was finally captured and handed over to the U.S. in January 2017. In 2019 he was found guilty on ten counts related to federal drug offenses.

“His organization relied upon violence to maintain its power throughout the region and beyond.  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 U.S. Department of Justice wrote after the sentence.

Judge Brian Cogan, from the Eastern District of New York, shot down several arguments in Guzman’s recent appeal.

“This was perhaps the most notorious criminal prosecution of the decade, and the charges of which petitioner was convicted could well have resulted in the death penalty but for the terms of his extradition,” Cogan said in the ruling, according to Reuters.

The Hill reported that Judge Cogan refuted Guzman’s assertion that he was unfairly denied a chance at a plea agreement. In the recent filing, Judge Cogan pointed out that even if Guzman’s claim were true, his legal representation made no effort to secure a deal, stating, “both because petitioner didn’t want it to, and because the likelihood of obtaining a plea agreement was virtually nil.” He emphasized that given the severity of the charges, including the top count of the continuing criminal enterprise charge carrying a mandatory life sentence, the outcome would likely have been the same, even with plea negotiations.

Guzman is serving a life sentence in a Colorado prison dubbed the ‘Alcatraz of the Rockies.’ In this high-security facility, inmates are kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours each day.

As Emily’s Hope has previously reported, Guzman’s sons now run the Sinaloa cartel, which is accused of manufacturing and distributing fentanyl into America. 

According to an indictment unsealed in April in Manhattan, Guzmán’s sons are accused of establishing a network of fentanyl labs to continue the family business after their father was sentenced to life in prison. One of his sons, Ovidio Guzmán López, has been arrested and extradited to the U.S. 

Photo Courtesy: US State Dept.

‘El Chapo’s’ wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, was recently released from federal custody after serving two years in a California halfway house for her involvement in running the Mexican drug cartel. 

Courtesy: Farallon Lynwood California Instagram