Infamous ‘El Chapo’ challenges US extradition legality & ‘torturous’ confinement
Guzman, 60, and his public defender lawyers, Michelle Gelernt and Michael Schneider, filed court papers in US District Court in the Eastern District of New York Thursday, saying his extradition to Brooklyn on January 19 violated the initial terms in the US-Mexico treaty relating to his extradition.
Guzman is currently being held in solitary confinement in a Manhattan federal prison. He is accused of running the Sinaloa cartel, one of the largest drug cartels in the world.
That agreement stated that Guzman would be transferred to either California or Texas to be incarcerated. His trial is scheduled for next April and US District Judge Brian Cogan will rule on Guzman’s request.
On the day of Guzman’s extradition to the US, Mexico suddenly waived the terms in the initial extradition and consented instead to send him to New York, Guzman’s lawyers said, according to the New York Times. The lawyers issued a waiver known as the Rule of Specialty, which states that defendants need to be tried only on the specific charges for which they are being extradited for.
However, last week, in a ruling that may hurt Guzman’s case, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that a defendant who gets extradited to the US has no standing to question how the Rule of Specialty applied to them, the New York Times reported.
El Chapo’s lawyers cite "the extraordinarily harsh conditions" of confinement in the US and have regularly challenged the conditions of his custody. Guzman says he gets no air and can’t see anyone. Amnesty International expressed interest in visiting Guzman earlier this year, but Cogan did not approve the meeting.
"These conditions... are tantamount to torture. Had Mexico been advised of these conditions, it almost certainly would not have consented to Mr Guzman's detention and prosecution in this district," court papers said, according to Yahoo.
The US Government has also shown a desire to seize $14 billion that Guzman purportedly acquired through drug profits. Guzman’s lawyers are challenging this notion, saying there was "no evidence" that the US notified Mexico to pursue the large sum of money.
Guzman currently faces a raft of firearms, conspiracy and drug trafficking charges. He may very well spend the rest of his days in a US maximum security prison if he is convicted.
Judge Cogan has since relaxed some of the conditions in which Guzman has been kept. Guzman is now free to exchange pre-screened notes with his wife, but is still barred from making phone calls and participating in family visits.