The physical and mental health of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera has been deteriorating during his stay in a prison known as the “Guantanamo of New York, his United States lawyers claim.
The former drug lord and leader of the Sinaloa Cartel has been kept in near-solitary confinement in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan since his extradition from Mexico in January.
Guzmán, 59, has also asked through his court-appointed attorneys for permission from Judge Brian Corgan to either see or speak on the telephone to his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, in order to “determine the availability of the necessary funds” to hire a private attorney.
Coronel, 27, tried to visit Guzmán on February 3 but was denied access.
Lawyers Michelle Gelernet and Michael Schneider explained in a 24-page motion presented to Corgan yesterday that Guzmán spends 23 hours a day in a windowless cell and the other hour in another cell — also without windows — equipped with a treadmill and stationary bicycle.
He is denied sunlight, phone calls and television, said the motion, and “his physical and mental health have deteriorated further” since his arrival in the U.S. The light in his cell is always on and he has often lacked warm clothing.
“He has difficulty breathing and suffers from a sore throat and headaches. He has recently been experiencing auditory hallucinations, complaining of hearing music in his cell even when his radio is turned off,” said the documents.
His only human contact has been limited to two visits with a priest and consultation with his attorneys.
Gelernet and Schneider claimed that the conditions violate his constitutional rights and requested that he be transferred to another penitentiary where he could have contact with other inmates.
Accused of heading one of the largest drug empires in the world, Guzmán has entered a not-guilty plea to 17 drugs and weapons charges. The accusations carry a minimum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted.