A US appeals court on Tuesday upheld the conviction of Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, rejecting his request for a new trial and keeping him in prison for life.
Guzman was convicted in February 2019 of trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine and other drugs into the United States over the course of 25 years, as well as money laundering and racketeering.
He was later sentenced to life plus 30 years and ordered to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture.
Guzman’s lawyers asked for a new trial, citing juror misconduct, among other issues.
One of the jurors told the website Vice News that he and others had ignored trial judge Brian Cogan’s ban on them following media coverage of the 11-week trial.
But in a 44-page ruling released Tuesday, Judge John Newman of the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd District rejected the request by Guzman’s attorneys.
“Judge Cogan conducted the three-month trial with diligence and fairness, after issuing a series of meticulously crafted pretrial rulings,” Newsman wrote.
“For the reasons set forth above, the resulting judgment of the District Court is AFFIRMED.”
When Cogan read the drug lord’s life sentence in July 2019, Guzman said, in Spanish, “there was no justice here.”
Guzman – his nickname means ‘shorty’ for his abbreviated stature — had also argued that the total solitary confinement to which he was subjected after his extradition from Mexico in 2017 prevented him from working with his legal team before and during the trial.
Guzman is serving his term in a high security prison in Colorado.
During Guzman’s reign, his Sinaloa cartel’s empire expanded across the globe, its tentacles stretching from the Americas to Europe and Asia.
In Mexico he managed to break out of prison twice.
The second time, in mid-2015, he did so via a one-mile (1.5 kilometer) tunnel that opened in his cell’s shower. He zoomed out by hopping on a modified motorcycle mounted on rails.
Mexican marines captured Guzman six months later and he was extradited to the United States a year after that, ending his decades-long cat-and-mouse game with the authorities.
Guzman’s wife, Emma Coronel, was sentenced to three years in prison in the United States in November for drug trafficking and money laundering in association with her husband’s cartel.