Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Judge permits psychological exam for 'El Chapo'

Published:Thursday | November 9, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman


A US judge gave permission yesterday for a psychologist to examine infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman at the New York City jail where he is charged in a drug-trafficking case.

Guzman smiled and waved to his wife and two young daughters in the gallery as he entered a Brooklyn courtroom for a brief pretrial hearing where the defence sought approval for the examination after months of complaining about strict jail conditions.

"His memory is failing. He's not remembering things," defence attorney Eduardo Balarezo said outside court when asked about the condition of his client. "I don't want it to get to the point where he can't assist in his defence."

US District Judge Brian Cogan approved the examination but said Guzman would only be able to talk to the psychologist without any physical contact.

Guzman, 60, was brought to the United States in January and pleaded not guilty to charges that he oversaw the Sinaloa drug cartel, a multibillion-dollar international drug trafficking operation responsible for murders and kidnappings. In Mexico, he had gained notoriety by twice escaping from prison, the second time in 2015 via a mile-long tunnel dug to the shower in his cell.

Court papers from the defence claim that Guzman is allowed outside his cell for only one hour per day and has had only one visit with his daughters. They say the cell is "frigid" and lacks fresh air.

In recent weeks, Guzman "has suffered a marked deterioration in his mental state," the papers say, including having hallucinations, bouts of depression, and headaches.

"It is plain to the defense team that something is not right with Mr Guzman," the papers say.