Attorneys for Mexican drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s lawyers recently filed court documents requesting their client be released from solitary confinement and asking that he be allowed to join the other inmates at his federal prison in Lower Manhattan.
They contend that the extended amount of time Guzman, head of the fearsome Sinaloa drug cartel, spends alone paired with the conditions of the prison are taking a toll on his mental health.
El Chapo arrived NY from a Mexican maximum security facility in January guarded by agents He was transferred to MCC in New York where he spends 23 hours of his day in a small cell
The claim the Guzman who has an intimidating reputation for ruthlessness, is suffering creeping mental incapacitation in confinement, after seven weeks in solitary at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. They said their client is: “experiencing auditory hallucinations,” and “complaining of hearing music in his cell even when his radio is turned off,” according to the court documents.
The most significant item in the court filings is their request that the 59-year-old drug lord be transferred to the prison’s general population, his attorneys have also asked that Guzman be allowed to speak with his family.
El Chapo who has earned a near mythical reputation for his daring escapes from highly secure confinement, is not currently allowed any interaction with his wife, Emma Coronel and their children or other family member. Federal authorities believe the communication could be used to secretly pass along messages.
Since his January extradition from Mexico, Guzman has spent the bulk of his time at MCC in the same small room. He spends 23 hours a day in his windowless cell on week days. He is granted one hour of solitary exercise in a room with a lone treadmill and a stationary bicycle. The fitness room is equipped with a small television, which his team claim he has not been allowed to watch.
The court documents further claimed that the only time El Chapo ever sees the outside is during the walk from his cell to the exercise room, when he passes by a small window.
“On the weekends, he is confined 24 hours a day and not permitted any exercise,” the documents read. “His meals are passed through a slot in the door; he eats alone. The light is always on. With erratic air-conditioning, he has often lacked enough warm clothing to avoid shivering.”
The incarcerated drug lord had bought a small clock from the commissary, but it was allegedly confiscated without explanation, according to the court documents.
Guards patrol the hallway of the prison. Security and surveillance has been greatly beefed up since the arrival of El Chapo Guzman
He faces charges including drug trafficking, murder and money laundering stemming from six separate incidents in the United States. The notorious kingpin, hailed as the leader of one of the most power drug trafficking organizations ever, has been credited with bringing cocaine from Columbia through Mexico into the United States.
For observers it is hard to see the courts alleviating the living conditions for the notorious, high risk inmate giving the number and manner of publicized, daring prison escapes under his belt.
Motorcade with high profile suspect Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court, NY Jan. 20, 2017. Feds decided after the one appearance, to lessen the risk by having him attend his trial, sitting in his cell, via remote transmission
The defense said the government seemed to acknowledge his 2-1 and 2-15 prison vanishing acts couldn’t have been pulled off without corrupt Mexican prison officials.
But Mexican prisons and American prisons were two different things, they said.
“Give the acknowledged widespread corruption in the Mexican prison system, Mr. Guzman’s alleged escape from custody while in prison there provides no basis for fearing that there is a danger that he will escape from custody,” they said.
However, giving the defiant and brazen taunting of authorities by El Chapo’s family and the cartel after each escape, the defense team’s’s request for a bit of leniency may be a tough sell.