Sunday, December 3, 2023

El Chapo’s lawyer appeals ex-drug lord’s prison sentence

A lawyer for convicted drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán filed an appeal against his client’s life sentence the day after it was handed down, court documents published today show.

Federal Judge Brian Cogan sentenced the 62-year-old former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel last Wednesday to a term of life plus 30 years.

Guzmán has already been transferred to the “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado, the United States’ most secure penitentiary. He was convicted on trafficking charges in February.

Guzmán’s new lawyer, Marc Fernich, filed an appeal on Thursday.

Fernich told the news agency AFP via email that “Guzmán has strong issues for appeal,” adding “we’ll fight to overturn his conviction and are confident we’ll prevail.”

A decision by an appeals judge could take up to a year, AFP said.

Another lawyer for Guzmán said last week that up to five jurors violated the judge’s orders by following the case in the media during the trial.

“All we had asked for is a fair trial. I’m not here to tell you that Joaquín Guzmán is a saint . . . Whatever you think of Joaquín Guzmán, he still deserves a fair trial, everybody does in America . . .” Jeffrey Lichtman said.

Guzmán himself also claimed that there was “no justice” in his case and described his incarceration in the United States as “psychological, emotional, mental torture 24 hours a day.”

President López Obrador said Thursday that his government will seek to seize the former drug lord’s assets, while Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said today that a binational working group needs to be created to determine the extent of Guzmán’s wealth in Mexico and the United States.

“There is information about assets in the financial system or in other areas that the United States will have to share with Mexico and we’ll also have to share information with respect [to Guzmán’s wealth] in Mexico,” Ebrard said.

The foreign secretary said he discussed the creation of a binational group with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday, and that he was receptive to the idea.

“. . . I have to wait for the official response [but] I wouldn’t expect a negative one,” Ebrard said.

Handing down his sentence last week, Cogan also ordered Guzmán to forfeit US $12.6 billion, an amount that represents the total amount of illegal drugs the jury determined he smuggled into the United States.

Some U.S. politicians have suggested that the money should be used to fund President Donald Trump’s border wall.

Source: Milenio (sp), Reforma (sp), AFP (en) 

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