‘El Licenciado’ gets a sentence reduction; he will be released in 2032

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“MX” for Borderland Beat

Damaso Lopez Núñez (‘El Licenciado’) was a key witness in the “trial of the century” against Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman

Former Sinaloa Cartel lieutenant Dámaso López Núñez (‘El Licenciado’) was able to get his sentence reduced to 14 years after being sentenced in 2018 to life imprisonment. According to records from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), El Licenciado’s expected release date is on November 8, 2032. He will be 66 years old.

El Licenciado’s sentence reduction comes days after Emma Coronel Aispuro, El Chapo’s wife, was arrested on drug-related charges in Virginia. This raises suspicions that his testimony was what may have secured her arrest. The charging documents against her rely heavily on the testimonies of “Collaborating Witness 1”, who many say is El Licenciado.


El Licenciado was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2018 after he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in Virginia.  He was ordered to forfeit US$25 million.

In court papers, El Licenciado agreed he was a senior Sinaloa Cartel member who controlled a faction of hundreds of men, including hitmen and smugglers. However, the publicly available court documents did not include a requirement for collaboration, as they usually would.

In 2019, El Licenciado was a key witness in the trial against Joaquín Guzmán Loera (‘El Chapo’), once considered Mexico’s most-wanted drug lord. It should be noted that after the trial, El Licenciado’s attorneys issued a motion requesting a sentence reduction for his collaboration, but since then no more was known.

Manuel Retureta, El Licenciado’s attorney, asked US federal judge T.S. Ellis to grant a prison transfer for him. According to the BOP, El Licenciado is currently serving his sentence at the US Penitentiary Canaan, a prison for minimum-security male inmates in northeast Pennsylvania. In contrast, El Chapo is serving life imprisonment at ADX Florence, widely regarded as the toughest and most secure prison in the US.

El Licenciado was arrested in Mexico City in May 2017; he was extradited to the US in July 2018

In the last few days, El Licenciado regained relevance for his alleged testimony against Coronel, who was arrested in Virginia earlier this week.

In court papers presented by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Eric S. McGuire, El Licenciado’s identity was hidden and he was only referred to as “Collaborating Witness 1” for formality reasons.

As reported by Borderland Beat, Collaborating Witness 1 confessed that Coronel was aware of the illegal nature of the Sinaloa Cartel’s operations, and that she helped coordinate El Chapo’s prison break.

There are rumors on social media that cartel members gave El Licenciado’s family 24 hours to evacuate the state of Sinaloa for testifying against Coronel.

“If not, they will have to face the consequences … They don’t want more sapos (snitches)”, the post read.

El Licenciado’s relationship with El Chapo

El Licenciado met El Chapo in 1999, when he became deputy director of the Puente Grande prison in Jalisco. El Chapo was imprisoned there after being arrested in Guatemala in 1993.


As head of Puente Grande, El Licenciado, helped El Chapo introduce cell phones, alcohol, cocaine, food from restaurants, and sex workers to the prison. Before El Chapo escaped in 2001, El Licenciado resigned amid corruption allegation that were beginning to weigh on him.

With El Chapo back in the criminal underworld as a free man, he hired El Licenciado as one of his lieutenants. El Licenciado bought ranches, gave bribes to military officials, and coordinated drug shipments for El Chapo. In addition, he was the godfather of El Chapo and Coronel’s twin girls.

Sources: Infobae; Milenio; Borderland Beat archives


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