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Attorney warns mental state of “El Chapo” deteriorating in prison

November 6, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Attorney warns mental state of “El Chapo” deteriorating in prison

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The attorney for drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman said he has noticed a “marked deterioration” in his client’s mental state — which includes hallucinations, depression and memory loss — due to his harsh jail conditions.

“It is plain to the defense that something is not right with Guzman,” defense lawyers Eduardo Balarezo indicated in a letter to a federal judge seeking approval for a neuropsychologist to examine his client, NBC News reported.

Because Guzman has broken out of two Mexican lockups, he is being held in near-isolation at the federal facility in Manhattan while awaiting trial on charges he operated the world’s most extensive drug cartel.

Since he was extradited to the U.S., defense attorneys and prosecutors have been arguing over the terms of his detention, which locks him in a cell for 23 hours a day with hardly any visitors outside of his legal counsel.

El Chapo is interrogated at an undisclosed location following his extradition to the U.S. in January.

In the letter, Balarezo contended that Guzman’s cell is cold and always bright. He’s had one hour-long visit with his daughters and one hour-long visit with his sister, whose visa has since been withdrawn.

“During the last month Guzman has suffered a deterioration in his mental state,” the letter stated. “This deterioration has manifested itself in his inability to remember people, places, and events. He has complained about 1) auditory hallucinations; 2) the government ‘recording’ his cell and visits; 3) feeling persecuted, and 4) depression. Counsel has noticed that Guzman has begun repeating himself and forgetting what the discussion is about.”

The lawyer suggested that if the purported deterioration continues, Guzman might be deemed incompetent to stand trial.

In a letter to the judge, the psychologist said she needs a contact visit to properly examine El Chapo. She said his hands cannot be shackled and the exam needs to be conducted in a room with no one but an interpreter present.

Prosecutors, who have previously argued that the tight security is necessary because of Guzman’s history of escapes, have not yet acknowledged to the defense request.

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