Speed Reads

criminal justice

El Chapo's lawyers argue that the drug lord is 'going crazy' in solitary confinement

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's defense lawyers are arguing that the famous drug lord's prison conditions at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan are making his health deteriorate and could lead to him going "crazy," The Washington Post reports. Guzman is the former leader of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel and he was extradited to New York City on President Obama's last full day in office. Guzman previously escaped from federal prison in Mexico twice; he has pleaded not guilty to 17 counts related to running the cartel.

Guzman's attorneys said Guzman sits in a windowless cell for 23 hours a day with the lights always on and his meals slipped through the door. He is given one hour alone in an exercise room with a treadmill and a stationary bike. The lawyers said on weekends Guzman spends all 24 hours alone in his cell, and that guards took away his clock — the only way he'd been able to tell night from day.

The attorneys argued for Guzman to be removed from solitary confinement and allowed to visit his wife, claiming that his "physical and mental health have deteriorated further since his arrival in the United States." The defense also argued that his constitutional right to hire private lawyers and exercise the freedom of religion and speech are being violated.

"I don't think it's tenable for him to live that way for the year or more it will take to try this case," said one of Guzman's lawyers, Michael Schneider. "We run a real risk of him going crazy."

The defense team said that Guzman is suffering from "difficulty breathing and ... 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."