El Chapo's winding road from mountain village to drug lord to U.S. prison

(Reuters) – Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who rose from humble origins in a mountain village to lead the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the world’s most powerful drug trafficking gangs, was sentenced on Wednesday by a U.S. judge to life in prison, plus 30 years.

Guzman left a bloody trail in Mexico’s drug wars even as he became a hometown hero while amassing a fortune in illicit proceeds valued by Forbes magazine in 2009 at $1 billion and by U.S. prosecutors this month at $12.7 billion. He escaped twice from Mexican prisons, enhancing his “Robin Hood” reputation.

Here some key events in his rise and ultimate downfall:

* APRIL 4, 1957 (the date the U.S. government uses, though there is some discrepancy) – Joaquin Guzman is born in La Tuna, Mexico, a village in the Sierra Madre mountains of Sinaloa state. As a teenager, U.S. prosecutors have said, he joined what was already an established industry there by cultivating marijuana and growing poppies for heroin production.

* 1980s – Guzman rises through the ranks of the illegal drug business under the tutelage of Sinaloan kingpin Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, alias “The Boss of Bosses,” who pioneered cocaine smuggling routes into the United States. Along the way, he acquires the nickname, “El Chapo,” which loosely translates into “Shorty,” a reference to his stocky 5-foot, 6-inch (1.67-meter) frame.

* 1993 – Guzman is arrested in Guatemala and extradited to Mexico two weeks after hired gunmen killed a Roman Catholic cardinal they mistook for him. He was sentenced to prison, but used his money to make his stay more comfortable, with lovers, prostitutes and Viagra, according to accounts published in the Mexican media.

* 2001 – Guzman stages his first breakout from a prison in western Mexico, purportedly in a laundry cart with the assistance of prison officials whom he had bribed.

* 2007 – While on the loose, Guzman marries Emma Coronel, then an 18-year-old beauty queen, in a village in Durango state in an ostentatious ceremony. She gave birth to twins in a Los Angeles hospital in 2011. The two are still married.

* FEB. 22, 2014 – Guzman is captured without incident in a predawn raid on a seaside condominium in Sinaloa.

* 2015 – Guzman again escapes from a maximum-security prison, this time using a tunnel more than a mile (1.6 km) long that began in the bathroom in his cell.

* JAN. 8, 2016 – Mexican marines, with the help of the U.S. Marshals Service and agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, recapture Guzman after six months on the lam in a violent standoff after an early morning raid at a roadside motel in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, that left five people dead.

* JAN. 19, 2017 – Mexican authorities turn Guzman over to U.S. law enforcement agents who bring him to New York in a small jet. A day later he appears in a U.S. court in Brooklyn and pleads not guilty to 17 criminal counts that he ran the world’s largest drug-trafficking organization.

* NOV. 13, 2018 – Under heavy security, and after some jurors were excused because they were afraid, prosecutors and defense attorneys make opening statements as Guzman’s trial gets underway.

* FEB. 12 – A federal jury in Brooklyn convicts Guzman of all 10 of the drug-related charges brought against him, capping an 11-week trial that heard testimony from more than 50 prosecution witnesses.

* JULY 17 – U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan imposes the mandatory sentence of life plus 30 years on Guzman during a hearing in Brooklyn. Guzman is also ordered to forfeit $12.6 billion.

Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis

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source: reuters.com