NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Lawyers for accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman are complaining that his jail conditions are too strict.
Guzman, who has repeatedly been imprisoned and escaped in Mexico, appeared Friday in a federal court in Brooklyn under heavy guard.READ MORE: Woman Wanted For Allegedly Punching MTA Employee In The Face At Times Square Subway Station
He arrived with an unprecedented security entourage of more than a dozen vehicles and a police chopper overhead, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
Guzman’s lawyers say he’s on a 23-hour lockdown in a special jail unit in Manhattan. They say jail officials are not allowing Guzman’s common-law wife and Mexican lawyer to have any direct contact with him.
His wife, Emma Coronel, sat in the front of the gallery during Guzman’s court appearance. He looked at her and smiled.
Guzman’s attorney Michelle Gelernt said there are so many protective orders surrounding this case, she can’t even give her client a glass of water in prison, Papa reported.
“I don’t think there’s any thought that if I have the guards give him a glass of water during a three hour meeting that somehow that’s going effectuate an escape,” she told reporters outside the courthouse. “We do believe they are too restrictive. He’s only permitted out to speak to limited members of our office.”
The judge instead deferred to the correctional facility and U.S. marshals saying they are “obviously taking extra security measures,” CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
Another issued raised during the hearing was whether there are conflicts of interest for the federal defenders representing him and if he should be allowed to hire his own private attorney.
His defenders say the current restrictions make that impossible without having access to his money or having any contact with his relatives.READ MORE: Metro-North Penn Station Access Project Allowed To Resume, 4 New Stations To Be Added In The Bronx
“If they want him to have access to hire a lawyer, we believe he needs to be able to meet with his family, or at least speak to his family, and confer with them about his wishes regarding counsel,” attorney Michael Schneider said.
The judge initially ruled that Guzman would appear in court Friday by video rather than have authorities take him to and from Manhattan.
The order was changed after his lawyers asked the judge to reconsider. They argued it could give off the impression that Guzman was too dangerous to appear in court, Burrell reported.
Guzman’s lawyers also claim they haven’t seen the extradition papers, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.
“The charges here in the Eastern District of New York were never the subject of the extradition proceedings in Mexico,” Gelernt said.
Guzman is charged with running a massive drug trafficking operation that laundered billions of dollars and oversaw murders and kidnappings.
“Guzman’s destructive and murderous rise as an international narcotics trafficker is akin to that of a small cancerous tumor that metastasized and grew into a full born scourge,” said U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers.
U.S. authorities have pursued him for years. To get Mexico to hand him over to the U.S., prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. They’re demanding he forfeit $14 billion in assets.
Guzman has pleaded not guilty. He’s due back in court on May 5.MORE NEWS: Police Trying To Identify Man Wanted After Woman Stabbed On Brooklyn Subway Platform
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