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El Chapo Makes Prison Plea

The former drug cartel leader says he needs the outdoors
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2019 9:37 AM CDT
In this Jan. 19, 2017 file photo, authorities escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman from a plane to a waiting caravan of SUVs at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, NY.   (United States Drug Enforcement Administration via AP, File)
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(Newser) – Looks like Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman won't be going outside anytime soon. The convicted drug kingpin, now held at a Manhattan federal prison, is complaining about the anguish of solitary confinement—but federal prosecutors say his request for two hours a week of outdoor time is likely a ruse to escape before he's sentenced next month, CNN reports. According to Guzman's attorney, the 62-year-old former cartel leader hasn't seen sunlight or fresh air during two-plus years of detention; his cell light is always on, causing sleep deprivation, and he has to stuff toilet paper in his ears to drown out the constant air conditioning. The treatment is "cruel and unusual," his attorney says.

But the Metropolitan Correctional Center's outdoor area is on a rooftop covered by wire mesh—an "elementary" escape for the man who has twice broken out of high-security prisons, prosecutors say. Not to mention that one of Chapo's previous breakouts involved a sophisticated, ventilated tunnel that went on for a mile. What's more, the prison already saw an attempted rooftop escape when prisoners hijacked a sightseeing helicopter in 1981 and rammed it into the wire mesh, per the New York Daily News. The Brooklyn-based prosecutors add that Chapo has a few perks behind bars, like bottled water, exercise equipment, and "a vented window that provides the defendant with access to fresh, outdoor air and sunlight." (Read more drug cartel stories.)

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