Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, currently imprisoned in northern Mexico, filed an appeal for an extra blanket last week, complaining that the one he had was not enough to ward off the winter cold.
“My client recounted that he was very cold and is scared of the cold that we have in this city,” Silvia Rocio Delgado Garcia Delgado, one of Guzmán’s lawyers, said earlier this week, referring to Ciudad Juarez, a city just across the border from El Paso, Texas.
The blanket provided to Guzmán in his cell “is very thin and insufficient” to face the low temperatures, Delgado added.
A Chihuahua state judge granted the appeal, one of his lawyers said.
“We were granted the (court order) because his individual rights were attacked. He had one very thin blanket, but last night he was given another one,” Delgado told AFP.
Thus far in December, Ciudad Juarez has seen daily high temperatures of around 40 to 50 degrees Farenheit, with lows in the 30s to 40s. In January, the city has averaged daily highs in the high 50s and lows in the low 30s. Guzmán was abruptly transferred to a prison near the city in early May.
“It’s incredible that we have to resort to moving everything to a federal court in order to ask for a blanket,” Delgado said, according to Tijuana-based weekly Zeta.
Guzmán and those around him have lodged a number of complaints about his treatment since he was recaptured in January. At Altiplano prison in west-central Mexico — which he broke out of in July 2015 and was returned to in January — Guzmán complained that authorities woke him up in the middle of the night for inspections and had dogs testing his food for poison.
Now, locked up in Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 9 just south of Ciudad Juarez, the kingpin has reportedly been guarded by as many as 75 agents, with 600 more soldiers and police officers outside, patrolling the perimeter of the prison.
He has been held in isolation there, and his lawyers have denounced the treatment as “cruel” and “inhumane” and said “it could end his life.”
Earlier this month, Guzmán, speaking through his attorneys, requested a meeting with Mexican Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong because the kingpin wanted to ask federal authorities to “respect his human rights” and to not “lie” about the exercise and library privileges he had while incarcerated.
Guzmán’s legal objections to his treatment come as the extradition proceedings against him appear to be wrapping up. The Mexican foreign ministry approved his transfer to the US earlier this year, and a judge signed off on it in October. While Guzmán’s legal team has vowed to keep fighting in court, authorities have said they expect to send him to the US in early 2017.
The kingpin’s assertions about his treatment in jail could be part of an effort to slow the judicial processes that seem to be going against him.
“Apparently the Supreme Court is reluctant to hear a final appeal from his attorneys,” Mike Vigil, a former chief of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration and author of of “Metal Coffins: The Blood Alliance Cartel,” told Business Insider in early November.
“So … and this is my personal opinion,” Vigil added, “right now what they’re trying to do is … make it appear that ‘Chapo’ Guzman is being tortured, that he’s been mistreated, and … that he’s extremely sick, and that is going to be the final ploy they use to try to keep him in Mexico”