On February 3rd, judge Brian Cogan of the federal court Brooklyn turned down the request put up by the defense lawyer of “El Chapo”. Defense stated that the prison conditions are quite strict. Public defender Michelle Gelernt argued that her client’s prison conditions have been quite unbearable due to the following reasons:
- Guzman has been locked in his cell nearly the entire day. He’s allowed to spend just one hour outside of his cell.
- The prisoner is not allowed to meet anyone but select members of the law office.
- He’s given just one hour which is not enough to make contact with his family or associate who might help him morally and financially.
However, judge Cogan’s seemingly unsympathetic response wasn’t baseless. The decision was made on account of Guzman’s track record of escaping from jail. However, rather surprising fact related to the case has been Guzman’s inability to hire a private lawyer, and it has been questioned by the prosecutors.
For those who don’t know the name, and why we’re discussing his affair in this post, El Chapo is the Mexican drug lord whose original name is Jaoquin Guzman Loerka. He used to run the most famous drug-trafficking network of the country, named Sinaloa Cartel. El Chapo became “Número uno” in 2003 after his rival Osiel Cardenas was arrested who was the whole and soul of Gulf Cartel. And make no mistake about this man, because he’s been consistently making his way to the top of the “Public Enemy list” published by Forbes. The magazine also declared him as second most powerful man in Mexico, behind Carlos Slim.
According to US Department of State, El Chapo was arrested two decades back on account of drug trafficking and murder and was sentenced to imprisonment for 20 years. But he managed to escape from Jalisco, Mexico in 2001. Since then, he had managed to regain the power and became the leader Sinaloa Cartel. He was rearrested in February 2014 but had managed to escape in July 2015, due to which Mexican govt. offered a handsome reward of $3.8 million for his capture.
In January 2016, the Mexican drug dealer was finally rearrested after a bloody raid also known as Operation Black Swan. The operation conducted by Mexican Navy resulted in the death of five gunmen and one marine was injured. Guzman was sent back to the same place from where he escaped the previous year.
The second hearing on El Chapo’s case in the federal court of Brooklyn was held on February 3rd. Prosecutors from the eastern district of New York seem to have put up a strong case, challenging Guzman’s inability to hire a private attorney. They presented evidences from world renowned magazine, Forbes and cited a law suit of $14 million filed by U.S government.
In response, public defender Michelle Gelernt highlighted that Guzman’s strict prison conditions prevent him from contacting his family members and associates. The defender insisted on lightening prison conditions but judge made batted down the request saying prison authorities have taken extra security measures because of Guzman’s reputation.
Although, the defendant is allowed to continue receiving public defender’s services, he must state why he needs one after prosecutors have presented evidences of his billion-dollar fortune.