Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has asked his defense team to expedite his extradition to the US because he is being mistreated in a Mexican maximum-security prison, his lawyer said Wednesday, according to AFP.
Guzman, who was recaptured on January 8 after tunneling out of a jail cell in a spectacular escape, made the request in an “act of desperation,” said lawyer Jose Refugio Rodriguez in a radio interview.
Rodriguez said it would take at least two months for the extradition process to be completed and that defense lawyers would have to discuss it with US authorities.
The timeline Rodriguez mentioned would likely require Guzman’s lawyers to drop an estimated nine appeals they have filed.
“We won’t drop the (legal) defense in Mexico until we have an agreement with the United States,” Rodriguez cautioned
The lawyer said Guzman told him to negotiate with US authorities for a lighter sentence and confinement at a medium-security prison, according to the AP. Guzmán has mentioned those conditions before, saying that he was willing to plead guilty in the US if authorities there met his requests
Rodriguez said he saw Guzman on Tuesday and that the Sinaloa drug-cartel leader told him: “Try to get me extradited as fast as possible.”
“He said to try to get a negotiation with the American government,” Rodriguez said, according to the AP. “We know of agreements with other people for confinement in medium-security prisons … a much lower sentence,” Rodriguez added.
Guzman, 58, has complained that guards at the Altiplano prison, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Mexico City, wake him up all the time.
“Not allowing someone to sleep is an act of torture,” Rodriguez said. “I saw a desperate man, a dejected man. I found him very discouraged and in a very serious state of health.”
In February, Rodriguez gave The Associated Press a copy of Guzman’s testimony in one of the cases against him. In it, the jailed drug lord accused prison authorities of torturing him “by waking him up, and said, ‘I feel like a sleepwalker.'”
“My head and my ears always hurt and I feel bad all over,” Guzman said in the document.
“I am loudly awakened every two hours at night. They are turning me into a zombie, they do not let me sleep,” Juan Pablo Badillo, one of Guzmán’s attorneys, quoted Guzmán as saying during an interview with Ciro Gómez Leyva of Radio Fórmula.
“I fear for his life, we don’t know if he is eating well,” said Guzmán’s wife, Emma Coronel during a Telemundo interview. “In general we don’t know what situation he faces because we have not be able to see him.”
Mexican authorities deny that Guzman is being mistreated. Security measures were stepped up at Altiplano following Guzman’s July escape, which deeply embarrassed President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration.
National security commissioner Renato Sales, whose responsibilities include overseeing federal prisons, said at a news conference Monday that Guzman’s human rights are in no way being violated at the Altiplano prison.
“Shouldn’t someone who twice escaped from maximum security prisons be subject to special security measures? The common sense answer is yes,” Sales said.