Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, known by various aliases, including “El Chapo” and “El Rapido,” was sentenced today June 17, 2019 by U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan to a life term of imprisonment plus 30 years to run consecutive to the life sentence for being a principal leader of a continuing criminal enterprise – the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel.
The court also ordered Guzman Loera to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture.
The evidence at trial established that El Chapo was a principal leader of the Sinaloa Cartel international drug trafficking organization responsible for importing and distributing more than a million kilograms of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin in the United States, the drugs that made him billions of dollars.
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El Chapo is also known as “El Rapido” for how quickly he transported drugs from Mexico to the United States for the Colombian cartels. After he escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart, Guzman Loera formed an alliance with fugitive co-defendant Ismael Zambada Garcia and, together, they became the preeminent leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel. Guzman Loera enforced his will and maintained control of his drug empire through an army of lethal bodyguards and a sophisticated communications network.
El Chapo escaped from prison again in July 2015 via a elaborate underground tunnel, equipped with air conditioning and a motor bike, the later escape cost $4 million to build.
The trial highlighted the methods Guzman Loera and his organization used to transport the cartel’s multi-ton shipments of narcotics into the United States, including fishing boats, submarines, carbon fiber airplanes, trains with secret compartments and transnational underground tunnels. Once the narcotics were in the United States, they were sold to wholesale distributors in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Arizona, Los Angeles and elsewhere. Guzman Loera then used various methods to launder billions of dollars of drug proceeds, including bulk cash smuggling from the United States to Mexico, U.S.-based insurance companies, re-loadable debit cards and numerous shell companies, including a juice company and a fish flour company.
El Chapo and his organization relied upon violence to maintain its power throughout the region and beyond. Numerous co-conspirators testified that Guzman Loera directed his hit-men to kidnap, interrogate, torture and slaughter members of rival drug organizations, at times carrying out acts of violence himself. As part of its arsenal, the Sinaloa Cartel had access to weapons, including grenades and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Guzman Loera’s personal arsenal included a gold plated AK-47 and three diamond-encrusted .38 caliber handguns, one emblazoned with his initials.
El Chapo and his organization also relied on a vast network of corrupt government officials and employees to protect and further the interests of the Sinaloa Cartel. They included local law enforcement officers, prison guards, high-ranking members of the armed forces and elected office holders. In exchange, the Cartel paid these individuals millions of dollars in bribes.