Lawyers for Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán are complaining about the alleged drug lord's prison conditions -- and asking that he be moved to general population

By Char Adams
March 14, 2017 09:32 AM
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Credit: U.S. law enforcement/AP

Lawyers for Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman say the conditions of solitary confinement are taking a toll on the alleged Mexican drug lord as he awaits trial on drug trafficking charges.

Guzman gained notoriety as the alleged leader of the world’s largest drug cartel for nearly 25 years and continued to make headlines with two alleged attention-grabbing prison escapes. Now, his attorneys are asking that he be moved to the general population at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal prison, citing lonely prison conditions.

“His meals are passed through a slot in the door; he eats alone,” lawyers said in court documents filed on Sunday, according to NBC News. “The light is always on. With erratic air conditioning, he had often lacked enough warm clothing to avoid shivering.”

In the motion filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, Guzman’s attorneys noted that he is alone in a “small, windowless cell” for 23 hours a day — he’s permitted one hour of exercise a day in a cell containing a bicycle and treadmill, according to NBC.

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Guzman’s defense team is also requesting that he be allowed to speak with his wife, Emma Colonel, according to CNN. However, officials fear that the alleged two-time prison escapee will use contact with his family to send messages to the Sinaloa cartel.

Still, his lawyers hold that life in confinement isn’t good for Guzman.

“He has difficulty breathing and suffers from a sore throat and headaches,” lawyers wrote in the documents, according to CNN. “He has recently been experiencing auditory hallucinations, complaining of hearing music in his cell even when his radio is turned off.

They also complained that the cell has no natural light, and the clock Guzman purchased from commissary was taken from the room without explanation.

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Credit: Mexico's federal government via AP

His defense also argues that the father-of-two’s lack of communication with outside officials means he won’t be able to take part in the documentaries and books covering his case, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“[Guzman] is prohibited from communicating with the news media and has no ability to contradict negative and false media reports,” his lawyers reportedly wrote in the documents.

Guzman has pleaded not guilty to several indictments across the United States including drug trafficking, money laundering and other charges, according to the Associated Press. He faces a sentence of life in prison.

In January 2016, Guzmán was arrested by Mexican marines nearly seven months after allegedly escaping from a Mexican prison. At the time, he was Mexico’s most-wanted man since his escape from a high-security prison outside Mexico City on July 11, 2015. He had also escaped prison in 2001.