There’s nothing like a good book to cure a bout of depression — at least that’s what prison authorities believe.
And depression is what Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was suffering when he was returned to El Altiplano maximum security two weeks ago following his recapture after six months on the run.
So he was given a copy of the classic Spanish novel, Don Quixote of la Mancha.
“He arrived depressed and tired of running,” said Mexico’s prisons chief, Eduardo Guerrero Durán. “That’s what he indicated in his first declaration upon arriving at the prison, which is why we gave him Quixote.”
Had they asked, authorities might have learned that Guzmán, leader of the notorious Sinaloa Cartel, would have preferred Zero Zero Zero, the 2013 book by Roberto Saviano that explored the world of drugs and dirty money.
That was the book he left on his bedside table last October when he was forced to flee his hideout in Las Piedrosas, in the heart of Sinaloa Cartel country in the Golden Triangle.
That was just days after Guzmán met with American actor Sean Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, and three months prior to his arrest in the Sinaloa city of Los Mochis on January 8.
Whether the drug lord will have his choice of books is unknown, but Guerrero did say that it was a strategy that would continue.
Guzmán will certainly have plenty of time for reading. Prison visits have been restricted to two of his lawyers; there will be no more girlfriends or concubines showing up for conjugal visits.
Reports in December indicated that Guzmán received 46 such visits during the 16 months he spent in the prison. That’s one every nine days.
When Emma Coronel turned up last Saturday, she was denied access because legally she is not Guzmán’s wife, said Guerrero, though she is reportedly the mother of his twin daughters.
Someone else who won’t likely be visiting any time soon is Lucero Guadalupe Sánchez López, a deputy in the Sinaloa state Congress, who is suspected of having visited Guzmán last April, and using false identification papers to enter the prison.
Attorney General Arely Gómez said this week that the two spent New Year’s Eve together.
Yesterday, the 26-year-old politician was detained by Federal Police in Sinaloa and transported to Mexico City for questioning about the April visit, which occurred just three months before Guzmán’s escape.
Another escape attempt would seem likely, but Guerrero believes it would not be successful. “We have to guarantee that what happened seven months ago won’t happen again,” he told NBC News last week. “I’m convinced that it’s not going to happen again. We are learning from our errors.”
Guerrero replaced Juan Ignacio Hernández Mora, who was fired after Guzmán’s July 11 getaway.