The notorious Sinaloa Cartel drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera has received his sentence: life in a supermax prison for conviction of a myriad of drug trafficking offences. And adding insult to injury, the judge tacked on 30 years for unlawful use of firearms and ordered $12 million in restitution. An embarrassing finale to a seriously complicated and lucrative criminal career.
Guzman was found guilty last February after a three-month trial featuring testimony from more than 50 prosecution witnesses and a six-day jury deliberation. The trial was fraught with chaos: from a juror experiencing a panic attack in fear of her life to Guzman’s attorneys pledging their client would not, under any circumstances, murder any one associated with the trial.
The flamboyant, cruel, extremely violent, and oft-times comical character in life’s stickier situations – running naked from federales during a raid through a trapdoor tunnel under his bathtub – Senor Guzman had a few choice words to say, through an interpreter, prior to sentencing. And one just might believe he became a Democrat while holed up in solitary confinement since his 2017 arrest – a necessity given his slippery, Houdini-esque escapes from prison and law enforcement for over 40 years:
“My case was stained and you denied me a fair trial when the whole world was watching. When I was extradited to the United States, I expected to have a fair trial, but what happened was exactly the opposite. I’ve been forced to drink unsanitary water. I’ve been denied access to fresh air and sunlight. The only sunlight I have in my cell comes through in the air vent. In order to sleep, I have to clog my ears with toilet paper because of the air from the air duct. My wife has not been allowed to this day to visit me, I have not been allowed to hug my daughters.”
Dear lord, did the United States government separate the Guzman family? And was he forced to drink water out of the toilet? Maybe Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) will launch an investigation into his claims if elected president.
A Win in the War on Drugs? Hardly
Guzman’s reign of terror also included a mythological Sinaloan Robin Hood status – Mexico’s own urban legend of Guzman dropping into restaurants, confiscating diners’ phones for an hour or two, and then leaving peacefully after generously paying for everyone’s dinner.
His successor does not have the same mystique: Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García, Guzman’s partner until his arrest, is downright terrifying. And no one knows how to find this boogeyman.
Here’s what we do know. Garcia once served as logistical coordinator for the Sinaloa Cartel, the Zambada-Garcia division, overseeing trafficking of cocaine and heroin into Chicago and other US cities by airplane, train, boat, and narco-submarine.
At 71, in a violent and high-risk profession, Zambada is most assuredly Mexico’s most powerful and persevering drug lord. As candidate for president of Mexico, Andres Manuel López Obrador vowed not to pursue the leaders of Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations. As president, and after backlash from cartel victims, he has since publicly stayed mum on the subject.
Simply, removing one bad hombre opened the door for another.
Adios, El Chapo
For now, perhaps this should be considered a win for the decades-long gathering of evidence, the loss of life for hundreds of law enforcement personnel, and the forever altered lives of the families of those who have suffered either because of his drugs or his violence. But the celebration is bound to be short and bittersweet.
Although not yet in stone, it appears Guzan will be shipped off to a supermax prison in Florence, CO, to bunk up with other horrible human beings like the Boston marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Yousef. If he was horrified by the conditions of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan during his stay, well, it would not be presumptuous to think we will be hearing from his cadre of lawyers in the near future.
For the meantime, adios pendejo y buena suerte.