Notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been sentenced to life behind bars in a US Supermax prison.
A federal judge in Brooklyn handed down the sentence Thursday morning (Australian time), five months after Guzman’s conviction in an epic drug trafficking case.
The decision was a humbling end for the 62-year-old drug kingpin once notorious for his ability to kill, bribe or tunnel his way out of trouble.
Guzman, who had been protected in Mexico by an army of gangsters and an elaborate corruption operation, was brought to the US to stand trial after he twice escaped from Mexican jails.
Before he was sentenced, Guzman complained about the conditions of his confinement and told the judge he was denied a fair trial.
He said US District Judge Brian Cogan failed to thoroughly investigate claims of juror misconduct.
“My case was stained and you denied me a fair trial when the whole world was watching,” Guzman said in court through an interpreter.
“When I was extradited to the United States, I expected to have a fair trial, but what happened was exactly the opposite.”
The harsh sentence was pre-ordained. The guilty verdict in February at Guzman’s 11-week trial triggered a mandatory sentence of life without parole.
Mr Cogan also ordered Guzman to pay $US12.6 billion ($18 billion) in ill-gotten proceeds – money his drug-trafficking organisation made distributing cocaine and other drugs around the US.
The evidence showed that under Guzman’s orders, the Sinaloa cartel was responsible for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign, prosecutors said in court papers recapping the trial.
They also said his “army of sicarios” was under orders to kidnap, torture and murder anyone who got in his way.
The defence argued he was framed by other traffickers who became government witnesses so they could get breaks in their own cases.
Guzman has been largely cut off from the outside world since his extradition in 2017 and his remarks in the courtroom could be the last time the public hears from him.
Guzman thanked his family for giving him “the strength to bear this torture that I have been under for the past 30 months”.
Wary of his history of escaping from Mexican prisons, US authorities have kept him in solitary confinement in an ultra-secure unit at a Manhattan jail.
Guzman has also been kept under close guard at his appearances at the Brooklyn courthouse where his case unfolded.
Experts say he will likely serve his sentence at the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
Known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies”, it is the same prison where the so-called ‘Unabomber’ and the Boston bomber are serving their sentences.