July 17 (UPI) — Convicted Mexican drug cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is expected to receive a life sentence in a New York City court Wednesday, ending the long U.S. prosecution that began more than three years ago.
Brooklyn U.S. District Court Judge Brian Cogan is expected to impose the sentence amid tight security that includes bomb-sniffing dogs and agents with automatic weapons. The line for observers to attend the sentencing began forming Tuesday night.
Prosecutors are asking Cogan for a life sentence, arguing the 62-year-old Sinaloa cartel leader is a “ruthless and bloodthirsty” drug lord.
“The horrific nature and circumstances of the defendant’s offense, his history and characteristics and the fact that the defendant committed some of the most serious crimes under federal law make a life sentence warranted,” prosecutors wrote in a filing.
Guzman was convicted in February of conspiracy to commit murder, drug trafficking and money laundering.
The death penalty is not an option because of the deal the U.S. government made with Mexico to have Guzman extradited. Defense attorneys did not file a memorandum for Wednesday’s sentencing.
“When there’s a guaranteed no chance of anything but life, there was no point in a sentencing memo,” defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman told ABC news. “its mandatory, and there’s no discretion with the judge.”
Defense attorneys can instead appeal the conviction based on the account of an anonymous juror who said at least five members of the pool had seen media coverage of the trial — a disclosure Lichtman said made him “livid.”
Trial testimony said Guzman continually evolved his drug smuggling techniques, beginning at the time he started trafficking during the 1980s. The trial lasted three months and included several former cartel members who testified against Guzman, who was ultimately convicted on all 10 counts he faced.
“He was a killer. He was a murderer. He was a manipulator. But he was also very, very, very smart, very street smart,” Drug Enforcement Administration agent Ray Donovan said. “He was willing to use extreme violence to control his territory and control his organization.”