Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman spoke publicly for the first time since his conviction on Wednesday, complaining to a judge that his incarceration at a Manhattan lockup has been absolute “torture” before being sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.
“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,” the 62-year-old convicted drug kingpin told Brooklyn federal Judge Brian Cogan ahead of his sentencing.
Guzman, who used a translator, continued reading from a piece of paper.
“In order to sleep, I have to clog my ears with toilet paper because of the air from the air duct,” he groused. “My wife has not been allowed to this day to visit me, I have not been allowed to hug my daughters.
“It has been physical, emotional and mental torture.”
The once-powerful leader of the Sinaloa cartel blasted Cogan, claiming he received an unfair trial that was tainted by juror misconduct. He was referring to an article that said multiple jurors in the trial violated a court order by reading news reports and social media posts about the case.
“I was extradited to the US to have a fair trial, where justice would be blind to my fame and would not be a defining factor in the administration of justice,” he started off saying. “But what happened was actually the opposite.
“You didn’t want to question the jury, so what you did was you alleged the actions of the jurors were not important because there was a lot of evidence against me,” Guzman railed. “If that was the case, why did we go to trial? The jury was not necessary then. Why didn’t you just sentence me [immediately]?”
He continued, “I take advantage of the opportunity to say there was no justice here. My case was stained and you denied me a fair trial while the whole world was watching.
“The United States is no better than any other corrupt country,” he concluded.
Guzman was then sentenced by Cogan to life in prison, the minimum he faced, plus an additional 30 years for his conviction for unlawful use of firearms, including machine guns.
“We’re here for sentencing,” said Cogan. “There’s not much I have to say about that because Congress has mandated that I impose life plus 30 years’ imprisonment. That’s the law.”
The judge also ordered him to forfeit $12.6 billion. Restitution will be determined at a later date.
Earlier in the morning, Guzman entered the courtroom sporting a mustache and a suit and tie and blew a kiss to his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, who was seated in the packed gallery.
He started off his statement by thanking his family, friends and legal team for their “unconditional support through this long process.”
“They have supported me and will continue to support me,” he said.
When the roughly hour-long hearing was over, Guzman blew another kiss to his wife and thumped his chest as he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. His eyes appeared red.
Guzman has been holed up in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan since his 2017 arrest.
His lawyers have repeatedly complained to the court about the conditions at the fortress-like lockup. Last month, they asked for the purported billionaire to be allowed outdoor exercise, earplugs and bottled water.
The request was shot down by the judge.
The diminutive druglord was convicted in February on a slew of drug-trafficking charges.
Though he’ll return to the MCC for now, Guzman will soon be assigned to a new home by the Bureau of Prisons — likely at ADX Florence, the US’s only supermax lockup in Colorado — where he’ll remain for the rest of his life.
Guzman, whose nickname means “Shorty,” has twice escaped prison in Mexico, once by hiding in a laundry cart and the second time by slipping through a mile-long tunnel his cohorts built leading to his prison cell.
Source: New York Post