Things That Matter

Despite Appeal, Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Is Spending Life In Prison Without Parole

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court upheld Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzman life-without-parole conviction. The decision comes a full five years after El Chapo was captured in Mexico and extradited to the U.S. in 2016. 

Guzman appealed his sentencing based on what he and his lawyers called “unbridled excess and overreach of powers by both the government and the judicial system.” They also claimed that the “strict conditions of his confinement before trial inhibited his rights to prepare a defense and benefit from the assistance of counsel.” In addition, they accused the jury of misconduct.

Essentially, Guzman and his lawyers argued that the government didn’t play by the rules when they were building a case against him. And also, his jail conditions were so strict, that he wasn’t able to help his lawyer make a strong case for him.

Despite his appeal, the appeals court was not having it. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit concluded, “We conclude that none of these claims has merit.” Adding, “the conditions of Guzman’s pretrial confinement, harsh as they were, do not provide a basis for disturbing his conviction.”

But, of course, El Chapo isn’t taking the decision lying down. His lawyer, Marc Fernich, responded by saying he was “sure a petition for Supreme Court review will follow in due course.” 

In the same statement, Fernich implied that Guzman’s sentence was solely based on his fame. “…We’re disappointed that substantial allegations of grave jury misconduct continue to be swept under the rug and left wholly unexamined in a case of historic proportion — all, it appears, he said, ‘Because of the defendant’s matchless notoriety.’”

As a reminder, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman, who was the leader of the immensely powerful Sinaloa Cartel, was convicted in 2019 on ten charges, including drug trafficking conspiracies, conducting a criminal enterprise, money laundering and unlawful use of a firearm, among many others.

Throughout the trial, Guzman maintained his innocence, insisting that he had been “framed” and that the months-long trial proceedings amounted to “torture.”

This is not the first time Guzman has been in jail. El Chapo has been in jail twice before, and both times, he escaped. Famously, he first escaped in 2001 in a laundry cart. And famously, the second time he escaped, he crawled through a tunnel he had dug in his cell. 

But this time, it’s not likely that El Chapo will be escaping. He will be staying at a supermax prison in Florence, Colorado — the most secure prison in the United States. 

The U.S. government is currently conducting a $20 million manhunt for El Chapo’s four sons, colloquially known as “Los Chapitos,” who have taken over the reins of the Sinaloa Cartel.

According to the U.S. government, Guzman hand-picked his four sons out of his “dozens” of children to groom them to take over the family business. And it appears that they are, indeed, continuing the family legacy — however violent it may be.

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