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Judge Raps Trump, Gives Lenient Sentence To El Chapo Witness

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge in Chicago took a swipe at President Donald Trump's comment last year criticizing cooperators as he handed a lenient prison sentence to a star witness at the trial of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in New York last year.

The judge sentenced Vicente Zamaba Thursday to 15 years for his years as a logistics chief for the Sinaloa cartel.

Without his cooperation against more than 100 cartel figures, he likely would have received a life sentence.

Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla
FILE - In this March 19, 2009 file photo, alleged drug trafficker Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla is presented to the media after his arrest in Mexico City. Documents unsealed Thursday, April 10, 2014, by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago show Zambada, a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico, pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in April 2013 and has been cooperating with authorities. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

With time served, the 44-year-old could go free in less than five years.

Judge Ruben Castillo praised Zambada's cooperation. He alluded to comments Trump made last year criticizing defendants for flipping in criminal cases.

Castillo told the hearing, "Are you kidding me?" He said those who flipped were doing so to cooperate in the interest of justice with U.S. prosecutors.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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