A federal judge in the United States has ruled that former drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán cannot enjoy a hug with his wife before his trial begins next week.
U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan wrote that “the court is sympathetic to the request,” citing Guzmán’s “exemplary” conduct and “grace under pressure” during the proceedings so far, but ultimately ruled against it.
“Having conferred extensively with the U.S. Marshals Service about the defendant’s request, the court is constrained to deny it. The marshals have stressed that acceding to the request would be contrary to all the security procedures that have been put in place.”
The judge said the denial was meant to prevent Guzmán from co-ordinating an escape “or directing any attack on individuals who might be cooperating with the government.”
Before Guzmán’s request was filed, his attorney warned that he might have a mental breakdown if he can’t have any physical contact with his spouse, Emma Coronel.
“It can be a brief embrace in open court with the courtroom railing between them. This entire process should not take more than a few seconds,” said Mariel Colón Miró. “The only human contact Mr. Guzmán has had since his extradition has been with the jail personnel when putting on and removing his shackles, and a quick handshake from his attorneys when he goes to court.”
Guzmán has been held in solitary confinement in New York for the last two years.
Guzmán has a reputation for being hard to hold in a jail cell. He has made two bold escapes from maximum-security penitentiaries in Mexico.
The former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel was recaptured in January 2016 and extradited to the United States just over a year later.
Guzmán has pleaded not guilty to 17 counts of drug trafficking, conspiracy, firearms offences and money laundering.