Lawyers for Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman complained on Friday that he was being subjected to excessive conditions of confinement in a federal jail and that his wife was not being allowed to visit him.
The arguments came in federal court in Brooklyn at a hearing for Guzman, who has pleaded not guilty to charges that he ran the world’s largest drug-trafficking organisation during a decades-long career. He faces life in prison if convicted.
Guzman’s wife, Emma Coronel, flew from Mexico to attend the hearing, which his lawyers said was the first time she had seen him since his surprise extradition two weeks ago.
Guzman, 59, who has escaped two maximum-security jails in Mexico, is on 23-hour lock-down in a special unit in the federal jail in Manhattan, according to his lawyers, and has been prevented from seeing Coronel and his Mexican attorney.
“We understand the need for security but we think it has gone above and beyond,” said Michelle Gelernt, one of Guzman’s court-appointed lawyers.
US District Judge Brian Cogan said he would defer to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to determine what conditions were set and who Guzman could see, saying the “history of the defendant is somewhat unusual.”
“Based on what I know of this case, there are grounds for taking additional security measures,” Cogan said.