The Chicago Syndicate: Is Joquin Guzman, AKA "El Chapo" Planning another Prison Escape?
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Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Is Joquin Guzman, AKA "El Chapo" Planning another Prison Escape?

A lawyer for Mexico's most notorious drug kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, dismissed prosecutors’ arguments that he might try to escape from the Manhattan prison where he awaits sentencing saying he should have access to drinking water, sunlight and fresh air because they “are basic human rights.”

“Mr. Guzman has not had any access to natural sunlight or fresh air for more than 2 years now since he has been extradited to the United States,” Guzman’s attorney Mariel Colon Miro told Fox News on Monday.

“It’s concerning because our country prides itself of being respectful of human rights yet the U.S. government is not doing it for Mr. Guzman.”

Colon Miro said she filed an original motion for Guzman’s conditions of confinement in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on May 9th requesting that her client would be allowed at least 2 hours of outdoor exercise a week, 6 water bottles a week that he would be allowed to purchase from the correctional facility’s commissary as well as access to a general commissary list, and that he would be allowed to access a set of earplugs to help him sleep.

She said on May 23rd the government filed a response asking U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan to deny all 4 of his requests alleging that he should not be allowed to exercise outdoors because of the risk that Guzman, who broke out of Mexican prisons twice, might try to escape again.

Prosecutors also cited an unsuccessful 1981 escape attempt at the same jail, in which a prisoner’s accomplices hijacked a sightseeing helicopter and tried to cut through the wire screening surrounding the recreation area. When that didn’t work, prosecutors said, they rammed the helicopter into the screen and then dropped a pistol to one of the inmates on the roof. The incident, even though it was foiled, “resulted in a standoff between two armed inmates and more than 100 armed, flak-jacketed police officers and prison guards in a population dense, urban area,” the government response stated.

The response said “any outdoor exercise would be particularly problematic for this defendant” who “successfully planned and executed elaborate escapes from two high-security penal institutions.”

This Sunday, Colon Miro said she filed a reply to the government’s response asking the Brooklyn federal judge to grant Guzman’s requests explaining that an attempted escape was “completely different” from the example supplied in the government response. She said Guzman should be granted outdoor access especially because he is not allowed to communicate with anyone but his lawyers and, therefore, is in no position to try a similar escape.

Judge Cogan sided with the government and denied all the requests in an order filed Monday saying the “defendant’s conditions of confinement are tailored to his specific history, including two prior prison escapes, and his specific crimes, including previously running the Sinaloa Cartel from prison and engaging in multiple murder conspiracies to kill his enemies, which were proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.”

Cogan also said the Government’s example of the prison escape attempt is relevant given Guzman’s history saying it would be “plausible that defendant could try to recreate such an escape attempt if the opportunity presented itself.”

The judge denied access to the general population commissary citing “security reasons” since many items on that list can be “weaponized.”

He also said that Guzman’s motion to purchase 6 water bottles a week is “denied as moot” since prison records show he has been receiving 6 water bottles a week since April 2019.

Cogan also denied Guzman’s request for earplugs saying the Metropolitan Correctional Center does not allow any inmate to use earplugs “due to legitimate safety concerns that the inmates would not hear guards in an emergency or would use them to ignore the guards.”

“I am shocked because the thing that we were requesting touched constitutional concerns and they were basic human needs,” said Colon Miro in response to Judge Cogan’s decision.

Michael Lambert, another attorney representing Guzman, told Fox News, “We’re distressed by the courts sacrificing security above all else in spite of valid humanitarian concerns.”

“We’re contemplating next moves,” Lambert said. “We are dismayed by this step back but we have no intention of abandoning this issue,” he added.

Colon Miro said one option is to petition the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Another option she said she is considering is to petition to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. “What Mr. Guzman is going through right now is plain cruel,” Colon Miro said.

John Marzulli, a spokesman for the office of U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, which prosecuted Guzman, told Fox News he has no additional comment.

Guzman, 62, will spend the rest of his life behind bars after being found guilty in February of trafficking tons of cocaine and other drugs into the U.S. as the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. The three-month trial detailed grisly killings, a bizarre escape and drugs hidden in jalapeno cans.

Guzman escaped from jail in 2001 by hiding in a laundry bin and managed to evade authorities by stowing away in one of his mountainside hideaways. He was recaptured in 2014 but escaped a year later through a mile-long lighted tunnel. Guzman was captured again nearly six months later. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.

Thanks to Talia Kaplan.

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