A U.S. court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by notorious drug lord Joaquin Guzman, or “El Chapo,” to review the 2019 ruling that sentenced him to life in prison.
In the rejection, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Cogan shot down several arguments made to vacate the convictions for the many crimes he committed, including conducting a criminal enterprise, drug trafficking conspiracies, unlawful use of a firearm, and money laundering conspiracy.
“Petitioner has not demonstrated adequate grounds for the appointment of counsel, so that motion is denied. His habeas corpus petition is also without merit, and it is therefore also denied,” Cogan wrote in the filing.
In 2019, the Justice Department described Guzman as the “principal leader of a continuing criminal enterprise – the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as 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,” the DOJ wrote in 2019.
Cogan rejected Guzman’s claim that he was not granted a fair chance at a plea agreement, noting in the recent filing that even assuming Guzman’s claim was true, that his counsel made no effort to obtain a deal, “the record shows that was both because petitioner didn’t want it to, and because the likelihood of obtaining a plea agreement was virtually nil,” adding, “Moreover, it is not realistic to think there was any chance of a plea agreement here.”
“This was perhaps the most notorious criminal prosecution of the decade, and the charges of which petitioner was convicted could well have resulted in the death penalty but for the terms of his extradition, which restricted the Government to seeking life imprisonment,” Cogan wrote.
“The top count of the indictment, the continuing criminal enterprise charge, of which petitioner was convicted, itself carried a mandatory life sentence. There is thus no reason to believe that petitioner would have obtained any better result than he did even if he wanted his attorneys to try to negotiate on his behalf, which he did not,” he added.
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