Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been sentenced to life behind bars in a US prison, a humbling end for a drug lord once notorious for his ability to kill, bribe or tunnel his way out of trouble.

A federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, handed down the sentence five months after Guzman's conviction in an epic drug trafficking case.

The 62-year-old, who had been protected in Mexico by an army of gangsters and an elaborate corruption operation, was brought to the US to stand trial after he twice escaped from Mexican prisons.

This courtroom sketch shows Joaquin Guzman as he listens to an interpreter in federal court, in New York. Photo / AP
This courtroom sketch shows Joaquin Guzman as he listens to an interpreter in federal court, in New York. Photo / AP

US District Judge Brian Cogan also ordered Guzman to pay $US12.6 billion ($A18 billion) in ill-gotten proceeds - money his drug-trafficking organisation made distributing cocaine and other drugs around the US.

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Guzman told the court before his sentencing that his case was "stained" by juror misconduct.

"My case was stained and you denied me a fair trial when the whole world was watching," Guzman said in court through an interpreter. "When I was extradited to the United States, I expected to have a fair trial, but what happened was exactly the opposite."

Guzman's lawyers had asked Mr Cogan to grant him a new trial following a report that jurors improperly viewed media coverage of the highly publicised trial. Mr Cogan denied that request.

He also complained about the conditions of his confinement in New York, saying he had been subjected to "cruel and inhumane" treatment.

Guzman has been largely cut off from the outside world since his extradition in 2017 and his remarks in the courtroom could be the last time the public hears from him.

He thanked his family for giving him "the strength to bear this torture that I have been under for the past 30 months".

Earlier, Guzman's wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, arrived for her husband's sentencing with security guards.

Ms Coronel regularly attended Guzman's proceedings even when testimony cast her in a harsh light.

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Emma Coronel Aispuro, wife of Mexican drug lord Guzman, leaves Brooklyn federal court following his sentencing. Photo / AP
Emma Coronel Aispuro, wife of Mexican drug lord Guzman, leaves Brooklyn federal court following his sentencing. Photo / AP

Wary of his history of escaping from Mexican prisons, US authorities have kept him in solitary confinement in an ultra-secure unit at a Manhattan jail. Guzman has also been kept under close guard at his appearances at the Brooklyn courthouse where his case unfolded.

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government's Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, known as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies".

That lockup houses some of the most notorious criminals ever to set foot in an American courtroom.

US law enforcement, authorities escort Guzman, centre, from a plane in 2017. Photo / AP
US law enforcement, authorities escort Guzman, centre, from a plane in 2017. Photo / AP

The 62-year-old Guzman was convicted in February on multiple conspiracy counts in an epic drug-trafficking case.

Prosecutors say evidence showed that under Guzman's orders, the Sinaloa cartel was responsible for multiple murders and for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign.