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Lawyers for "El Chapo" say he's shivering, misses daylight

Federal defenders for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman submitted a 24-page letter to the court detailing their client’s objection to the condition of his jail cell in Brooklyn.

The lawyers argue his First, Fifth and Sixth Amendments are being violated by the current terms of his imprisonment.

In addition, the newly filed court documents reveal details about the notorious Mexican drug lord’s life in prison.

“With erratic air-conditioning, he has often lacked enough warm clothing to avoid shivering ... His only opportunity to see daylight is when he passes a small window on his way to exercise or the exercise cell,” it reads.

"El Chapo" complains about prison conditions in court appearance 01:34

Confinement conditions

  • Guzman currently remains in his cell for 23 hours a day, Monday to Friday. On weekends, he’s confined 24 hours a day. 
  • He’s permitted a single hour of solitary exercise in another cell that contains one treadmill and one bike. 
  • His meals are passed through a slot in the door. The light is always on.

Guzman purchased a small clock from the commissary, but it was later taken from his cell with no explanation. He also purchased a small radio from the commissary which has remained in his possession and is his only contact with the outside world.

His lawyers submitted extensive medical research about the impact of solitary confinement and an Amnesty International report which criticized the specific unit he’s held in.

Contact with family

Since his arrival in New York, he’s had no contact with his wife Emma Coronel, family, or Mexican legal team. The Department of Justice has argued that his family helped engineer his elaborate escape from Mexican prisons.

The wife of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Emma Coronel Aispuro, exits the federal courthouse in Brooklyn after a hearing in Guzman’s case on Feb. 3, 2017, in New York.
The wife of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Emma Coronel Aispuro, exits the federal courthouse in Brooklyn after a hearing in Guzman’s case on Feb. 3, 2017, in New York. Getty

Guzman’s U.S.-tax-payer-funded lawyers are asking that he be able to have contact with his wife or his Mexican lawyers so they can help him gather resources to hire private counsel in the U.S.

They argue that his right to counsel is being violated because he cann’t talk with family who can help him get a new lawyer and the prison has also prevented him from speaking with his current federal counsel.

At the last hearing, the judge in this case said he wouldn’t make any modifications to El Chapo’s confinement and would, “for reasons are all aware of,” defer to the prison.

Guzman has pleaded not guilty to charges of running a massive drug trafficking operation that laundered billions of dollars and oversaw murders and kidnappings. He’s being held at a high-security federal jail in Manhattan, with U.S. officials mindful of how he twice escaped from prison in Mexico, the second time via a mile-long tunnel dug to the shower in his cell.

CBS News’ justice reporter Paula Reid contributed to this report.

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