El Chapo Gets Life, Rebukes U.S. for Torture

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-Loera was sentenced today to life in prison plus 30 years. When given his chance for allocution, he rebuked the U.S.

“Since the government will send me to a jail where my name will not ever be heard again, I take this opportunity to say: There was no justice here,” El Chapo told Cogan, according to the New York Daily News.

“I drink unsanitary water, no air or sunlight, and the air pumped in makes my ears and throat hurt. In order to sleep, I put toilet paper in my ears. My wife had not been allowed to visit, and I can’t hug my daughters,” he said, according to NBC News. “This has been psychological, emotional and mental torture 24 hours a day.”

“My case was stained and you denied me a fair trial when the world was watching. What happened here is the U.S. is not better than any other corrupt country,” Guzman added.

I agree with him. This trial was a showboat, run by his former associates who were given license to claim whatever they wanted in exchange for a reduction in sentence for their own misdeeds. Freedom is a commodity far more precious than money.[More....]

His lawyers were hamstringed by the judge at every turn, from delays in providing discovery for cooperating witnesses to barring them from presenting their defense: that Ismael Zambada-Garcia was the true leader of the Sinaloa Cartel and due to the corruption of Mexican police sand government officials, and the impunity they have in Mexico, Zambada was able to work hand and glove with them to set up El Chapo. Is that true? I have no idea, but I think they should have been allowed to present it, because if the jury believed it,and found El Chapo was not a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel during much of the time period of the charged conspiracy, they might have rejected the kingpin charge and El Chapo might not have been required to be sentenced to life.

His lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, said after the sentencing:

“You can bury Joaquín Guzman under tons of steel in Colorado but you’re never going to erase the stink of” his trial.

Think about this: El Chapo will be in prison for life, but his accusers will be out in due time, provided new identities, and they and their family members (who also will be given visas and new names) will be out living and working among you. You won't even know it, because of their new identities. Some of them have admitted murdering or ordering the murder of 150 or more people. These sociopaths will get lifetime residency in the U.S. while hard working refugees are going to be denied asylum.

Getting El Chapo was so important to the DEA, the U.S. spent tens of million (if not hundreds of millions) of our dollars hunting him down, prosecuting him and jailing and protecting his claimed associates, for activities going back to 1989, and the U.S. will now spend millions more incarcerating him for life, all the while putting admitted murderers back on our streets with assumed names.

There has been no dent in the violence since El Chapo was extradited, and no decrease in the flow of drugs from Mexico to the U.S. The "kingpin" strategy (taking out the guy at the top) can never work because there are too many people ready and willing to take his place. The Sinaloa Cartel has not been a hierarchal organizaton for years. There is no one leader. Taking out any one co-leader has no effect.

Estimates for housing an inmate at Supermax are $75,000 per year (See also here).

As for deterrence, I can't recall anyone ever saying "I am not going to move up in my drug cartel because my boss got caught and sent to the U.S. and got a life sentence."

And now that jurors know they can disregard the judge's instructions, talk about the case, and follow social media reports, all without impunity, the integrity of jury verdicts in future high profile cases is at risk. If you cannot trust in the integrity of the trial, you cannot trust the verdict.

As for the conditions of the special unit where El Chapo has been held, I do believe the conditions are inhumane and unconstitutional. Unfortunately, too many people in this country have a law and order mentality and revel in guilty verdicts and big punishment, while caring little for consitutional rights -- until it's their rights at stake.

The war on drugs is a failure and always has been. The DEA, like ICE, should be abolished. The money we spend on them can be much better utilized elsewhere.

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