As you very well know, the alleged kingpin of all kingpins, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has been extradited from Mexico to the United States to await his trial in April of 2018. The leader of the Sinaloa Cartel (allegedly the largest drug cartel in the world) faces charges of drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit murder, to which he has pleaded not guilty. As he waits in Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City, his bid is as restricted as possible. He is kept in complete isolation from other inmates, is denied contact with his wife and is deprived time outdoors for fresh air. It is well known that he escaped prison twice in Mexico and the American authorities are keeping him as locked down as possible to avoid history repeating itself. The judge in the case also does not want to give El Chapo the freedom to run his cartel from behind the wall.
However, the heavy restriction is reportedly have an adverse impact of El Chapo’s mental health. According to Newsweek, “Guzman is suffering from hallucinations, depression and paranoia, which his lawyers say may soon be serious enough to find him unfit to stand trial.”
“At this time, counsel does not allege that Mr. Guzman is not competent,” attorney Eduardo Balarezo wrote in a letter to a federal judge. “Rather, counsel suggests that Mr. Guzman’s condition may eventually result in a finding of incompetence if it is not addressed soon.”
Balarezo’s letter continues, “Counsel has noticed that Mr. Guzman has begun repeating himself often and sometimes forgetting what the discussion is about.” He added, “It is plain to the defense team that something is not right with Mr. Guzman.”
The letter further details El Chapo’s condition, citing that his cell is cold, is always lit and lacks clean bedding.
Previously, public defender Michelle Gelernt also pleaded on El Chapo’s behalf. “Mr. Guzman is being held under the worst, most restrictive conditions of any prisoner currently detained by the United States government,” she said. “Even convicted prisoners held in the notorious federal Supermax in Colorado are allowed to watch television in their cells, exercise outside where they can speak with other inmates, and speak with their families. Mr. Guzman enjoys none of these benefits.”
If the judge heeds the words of the attorneys and addresses El Chapo’s mental health, he will be permitted to meet with a neurologist who will deem if he is fit to stand trial.