On May 30, a federal judge in Illinois sentenced a former top-level member of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel to 15 years in prison. The defendant previously testified against infamous drug lord "El Chapo."
The sentence was handed down in the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago, and the U.S. district judge said that the case involved one of the highest-ranking drug cartel members he has ever sentenced. According to court records, the defendant, age 44, was a member of the Sinaloa drug cartel and trafficked narcotics into the U.S. from 1996 until 2008 using private planes, submarines, fishing vessels and container ships. In 2013, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and agreed to testify against his boss, Joaquin Guzman Loera, also known as "El Chapo."
The defendant has already been in prison for a decade and could be eligible for parole in just a few years. However, due to his cooperation with authorities, his life could be at risk if he is not placed under government protection when he is released. Federal prosecutors in Chicago have indicted over 20 members of the Sinaloa cartel and the Beltran-Leyva cartel in recent years. Overall, the investigation has led to the seizure of approximately 11 tons of cocaine, 265 kilograms of methamphetamine, 78 kilograms of heroin and around $30 million.
Federal drug trafficking charges often carry severe penalties, including years of incarceration and hefty fines. Defendants charged with drug crimes might benefit by retaining a criminal defense attorney to represent them in court. The attorney may be able to develop a defense against the accusations and work to protect the defendant's future. One strategy might be to negotiate a plea deal that allows the defendant to plead guilty to reduced charges.Source: FOX 32, "Drug trafficker who testified against 'El Chapo' gets 15-year sentence," May 31, 2019