He might be an infamous drug lord, but Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman doesn’t possess supernatural powers, his attorney argues in a new filing mocking prosecutors’ concerns the kingpin could be planning an escape.
Guzman, 62, previously requested he be allowed luxuries such as earplugs and outdoor exercise in the prison’s rooftop facilities as he awaits sentencing — noting he hasn’t seen natural light in over two years.
Yet prosecutors told a judge the request should be denied, citing a failed 1981 rooftop escape from the downtown Manhattan Metropolitan Correctional Center in which an inmate’s cohorts rammed a helicopter into the wire-topped recreational area.
“Mr. Guzman has no special vision,” lawyer Mariel Colon writes, referencing arguments that the convicted Sinaloa Cartel head could somehow signal allies stationed on nearby rooftops.
“MCC is surrounded by highly surveilled buildings, including the Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Southern District Court and the Second Circuit Court, where a stranger could not possibly be able to freely access their rooftops,” reads the filing.
Colon also accuses prosecutors and prison officials of exaggerating safety concerns regarding Guzman “attempting to escape or attempting to run a drug cartel from an obscure rooftop.”
If the government is truly concerned, she writes, they should consider moving Guzman to a facility where the rec area is not located on the roof.
“The Government should not be allowed to claim that it is okay to violate a defendant’s constitutional rights because of a design flaw in the building,” Colon says.
Colon also notes that her client is unable to communicate with anyone except his thoroughly-vetted legal team, and therefore would be unable to coordinate an escape attempt.
Guzman is scheduled for sentencing on June 25, following his conviction on various drug trafficking charges in February. He faces a mandatory sentence of life behind bars.
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