One target of a murder plot ordered by Mexican cocaine kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera wants to make a statement next week at the convicted drug trafficker’s Brooklyn federal court sentencing, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.
The government did not name the victim who wants to speak. But at Guzmán's trial that ended earlier this year, prosecutors presented evidence to U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan that he ordered or personally participated in the murder of 26 people.
“At least one of the victims who survived a murder plot initiated by the defendant intends to make a victim-impact statement at the sentencing hearing on July 17,” prosecutors wrote.
Guzmán, a notorious leader of the Sinaloa cartel who twice staged escapes from Mexican prisons, was convicted of running a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy, drug trafficking, firearms offenses and money laundering, and faces a mandatory life prison term plus a mandatory 30 years for the weapons charges.
The sentence would be deserved even if it wasn’t mandatory, the government said in the letter to Cogan.
“A life sentence is warranted to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant, who has spent three decades committing crimes unabated and obstructing justice to avoid taking responsibility for those crimes,” they wrote.
Prosecutors last week said they are seeking forfeiture of more than $12 billion from the drug lord, who is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the federal jail in Manhattan.
In the Wednesday letter they said they have also notified all of his victims of their right to seek restitution, but only one — who has not yet filed a loss claim — indicated an interest in pursuing money.
A defense lawyer for El Chapo said the mandatory life sentence was the product of a trial marred by press reports of jury misconduct, including exposure to inadmissible evidence in the press, that Cogan refused to hold a hearing on last week.
"Neither the judge nor the government care," said defense lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman in an emailed statement. "For this reason there will forever be a stain of injustice on this verdict."