El Chapo henchman Felipe Cabrera Sarabia sentenced to 19 years in prison

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff and Christine Tressel WLS logo
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
El Chapo henchman sentenced to 19 years in prison
U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman handed Felipe Cabrera Sarabia a more-than-19 year sentence, saying she didn't know if that would deter drug dealers.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Felipe Cabrera Sarabia begged for mercy from a federal judge during his sentencing hearing Tuesday afternoon but he didn't fare well.

Cabrera is a cartel cattleman by trade according to a letter he wrote from the federal lockup in Chicago. The letter to the sentencing judge mostly invokes a higher power.

"God only knows," the drug trafficker admitted, referring to hardships and a blessing he sends from God to the judge before his fate is announced.

READ MORE: Accused Sinaloa cartel top operative Felipe Cabrera Sarabia trying to avoid more jail time

"Yes, there were family there, very close knit family. And they came from Mexico and parts of the United States, to be with him," said Ralph Meczyk, Cabrera's attorney.

U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman handed Cabrera a more-than-19 year sentence, saying she didn't know if that would deter drug dealers. Judge Coleman said she appreciated Cabrera's former community work but noted "my community has been decimated" by the inflow of killer cartel drugs.

Cabrera known in cartel drug circles as "The Engineer" for his logistics skills and also for underlings who somehow disappeared.

His boss was El Chapo, the billionaire and bloodthirsty drug lord who is now locked up for life in a U.S. prison.

In a letter from the lock-up in downtown Chicago, Cabrera begged for jail time leniency; first asking "God for forgiveness..." and then the judge herself: "I beg you to please be merciful," Cabrera writing. "Only God truly knows of all the hardships" his family has endured. "God only knows how it feels to be without a family."

To that the judge responded: "I'm sorry your family is going to miss you" she said. But "that's the price" of drug trafficking.

"I'm satisfied. I really am. I thought the judge was very thorough and she gave a very, very fair hearing. So I'm satisfied," Meczyk told the I-Team after the sentencing hearing.

It was last January that Cabrera pleaded guilty to trafficking cocaine and heroin for El Chapo's Sinaloa cartel. That's the Mexican drug organization that has supplied 80-percent of Chicago's street drugs over the decades according to authorities. Cabrera is getting credit for jail time served in Mexico awaiting extradition. He is expected to serve about nine more years here and then be deported back there.