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US judge sentences Mexican drug kingpin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman to life

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Once one of the world’s most powerful and notorious criminals, Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was jailed for life Wednesday — the mandatory sentence for a host of crimes spanning a quarter-century.

Guzman, the 62-year-old former co-leader of Mexico’s mighty Sinaloa drug cartel, was convicted in February in US federal court on a variety of charges, including trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana to the United States.

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The much-anticipated sentencing hearing in a New York courtroom caps a dramatic legal saga and saw Guzman deliver what will likely be his final public words before he is taken to a supermax federal prison in Colorado for the rest of his days.

“Since the government of the United States is going to send me to a prison where they will never hear my name, I take this opportunity to tell them: there was no justice here,” he said, wearing a gray suit, lilac shirt, purple tie and publicly sporting his mustache for the first time stateside.

The charges, which also include money laundering and weapons-related offenses, carried a mandatory life sentence.

US Federal Judge Brian Cogan tacked a symbolic 30 years on the sentence and ordered Guzman to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture — an amount based on a conservative estimate of revenues from his cartel’s drug sales in the United States.

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So far, US authorities have not recovered a dime.

– ‘Great torture’ –

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PGR/AFP/File / HO Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman — seen here in a photo released in 2014 by Mexican authorities — is expected to spend the rest of his life in a US federal prison

In the courtroom in Brooklyn, Guzman said prayers from his supporters had given him “strength to endure this great torture,” which he said has been “one of the most inhuman that I have ever experienced… a lack of respect for my human dignity.”

When entering and prior to leaving the room, he touched his heart and blew a kiss to his wife Emma Coronel, who wore a black and white suit and was perhaps seeing her husband for the last time.

Complaining bitterly that he was unable to hug his twin daughters, who did not attend the hearing, Guzman said that “the United States is no better than any other corrupt country that you do not respect.”

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– ‘Overwhelming evil’ –

HO/AFP/File / HO Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, seen in 2016 after his re-arrest in Mexico

Guzman — whose moniker “El Chapo” translates to “Shorty” — is considered to be the most influential drug lord since Colombia’s Pablo Escobar, who was killed in a police shootout in 1993.

During the epic three-month trial in New York, jurors heard evidence from 56 government witnesses, with many describing in exacting detail the cartel boss beating, shooting and even burying alive those who got in his way, including informants and rival gang members.

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Prosecutors won their request to tack on a symbolic extra 30 years in prison for the use of firearms in his business, portraying Guzman as “ruthless and bloodthirsty.”

Cogan said he imposed the additional sentence because the “overwhelming evil is so severe.”

A Colombian woman who prosecutors say survived a hit ordered by the kingpin tearfully read a statement in court Wednesday, saying Guzman had caused her psychological damage.

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“I am a miracle of God, because Mr. Guzman tried to kill me,” she said. “I paid a high price — I lost my family, my friends, I became a shadow without a name.”

“I had everything and I lost everything, even my identity.”

– ‘Alcatraz of the Rockies’ –

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Guzman launched his career working in the cannabis fields of his home state of Sinaloa. Now, he is likely to live for the rest of his life at the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” — the supermax federal prison in Florence, Colorado.

US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE/AFP/File / HO A photo released by the US Department of Justice shows Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman as he was extradited to the United States in 2017

Current inmates include convicted “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols, the British “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and the Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is awaiting execution.

Since his extradition from Mexico in 2017, Guzman has been held in solitary confinement at a high-security prison in Lower Manhattan.

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He repeatedly complained about the conditions of his detention via his attorneys — notably that his windowless cell is constantly lit.

Speaking to AFP prior to the proceedings, Guzman’s lawyer William Purpura said: “I think he is in a good state of mind right now.”

“I think he’s had enough of being here and the way he’s been housed,” Purpura said.

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“And I think he’s looking forward to the move to where he’s going to go, and looking forward to his appeal.”

AFP/File / Jason Connolly Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is expected to serve his sentence at the Administrative Maximum Facility, also known as the ADX or “supermax” prison, in Florence, Colorado — the “Alcatraz of the Rockies”

Another attorney, Eduardo Balarezo, said that “Joaquin’s conviction and incarceration for drug trafficking will change nothing in the so-called war on drugs.”

New York’s special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan acknowledged that taking El Chapo out of the equation did not diminish the Sinaloa cartel’s influence.

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“We believe that’s the one that supplies most of the drugs coming into the US,” she told AFP.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Lawmaker Rashida Tlaib calls for boycott of Bill Maher’s ‘Real Time’ over Israel comments

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Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., suggested a boycott against HBO host Bill Maher after he denounced the international movement to boycott Israel as a "bullshit purity test by people who want to appear woke but actually slept through history class."

This article first appeared on Salon.

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A man became a hero to the internet over the weekend after he was captured on video saying "f*ck you" to members of a group of conservative protesters known as Proud Boys.

In a video that appeared to be from Saturday's protests in Portland, a man can be seen walking into a group of right-wing demonstrators.

"F*ck you," the man says, pointing at an apparent Proud Boys member.

"F*ck you," the man says again as he points at another member of the group.

The man then repeats the process over and over, pointing out a member of the Proud Boys each time. He did make an exception for a dog, which he described as "cool."

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GOPer Joni Ernst booed and peppered with questions about guns at tense Iowa town hall

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In videos uploaded to Twitter, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) received a chorus of boos and shouts from a town hall crowd after she tried to blame mass shootings on mental health issues, with one person shouting, "Do something!"

According to a report from Iowa Starting Line, the embattled Iowa Senator whose approval numbers have dropped, due in part to President Donald Trump, was pressed by one local teacher about changing gun laws so she can get back to the job she was hired for.

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