ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Notorious Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was sentenced by a federal judge Wednesday to life in prison.
The sentence caps a narco saga for Guzman, 62, who was convicted in February of charges that carried a mandatory life sentence.
U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan added an additional 30 years on top of life, and ordered the former Sinaloa Cartel chief to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture to the U.S. government.
"The long road that led Chapo Guzman from the mountains of Sinaloa to the courthouse behind us today was paved by death, drugs and destruction. But it ended today with justice," Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski told reporters. "Mr. Guzman thought for more than 25 years that he was untouchable, that there was no problem affecting the Sinaloa Cartel that he couldn't bribe, intimidate, torture or kill his way out of."
Guzman had escaped custody twice in Mexico before he was extradited to the U.S. to stand trial in January 2017.
He once controlled an expansive drug empire, dealing at times viciously with cartel rivals to maintain his cartel's dominance.
In what is likely to be his last public appearance, Guzman, who never spoke during his long trial, reportedly complained that he was denied a fair trial.
Jeffrey Lichtman, Guzman's attorney, called his sentence "inevitable," dismissing what he called an "inquisition" and a "show trial."
"How it ended is exactly perfect for that description," he said. "At the end of the day all that mattered was the government's evidence, no matter how flawed it may have been."
The Mexican state of Sinaloa has long been a hub of contraband in Mexico, as well as a home for marijuana and poppy cultivation. Nearly all of the drug trafficking organizations in Mexico have their origins in the region.
The Sinaloa Cartel, believed to be one the largest and most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world, is an alliance of Mexico’s top drug bosses who operate in concert to protect themselves, relying on connections at the highest levels of government and corrupting portions of Mexican law enforcement and military.
*Vakkas Dogantekin in Ankara contributed to the story