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‘El Chapo’ attorneys: Jail conditions harmful to mental health

Federal agents escort alleged Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín

Federal agents escort alleged Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán in January 2017. Guzmán's solitary confinement in a Manhattan federal jail is harming his mental health, his attorneys said in a court filing on Monday, March 13, 2017. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images

Alleged Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera is going slightly batty in isolation in a Manhattan federal jail, his lawyers said in a court filing late Monday as they sought relief from special security measures for the alleged head of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

After seven weeks in solitary confinement in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, Guzmán has been experiencing “auditory hallucinations, complaining of hearing music in his cell even when his radio is turned off,” the lawyers said in a letter, arguing the conditions pose a danger to his “sanity.”

Defense attorneys Michael Schneider and Michele Gelernt also told U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan the tight security has trapped Guzmán in a Catch-22, that he has met private lawyers and wants to retain one, but neither he nor his attorneys are allowed to tell his wife who he wants to hire or instruct them to locate funds to pay.

Schneider and Gelernt work for Federal Defenders of New York, a nonprofit that provides legal defense to those who can’t afford their own lawyer.

The government says Guzmán, 59, charged with trafficking tons of cocaine into the United States, is a billionaire.

Jail officials are restricting communication because the government says he was able to run his cartel from jail in Mexico and organized two escapes.

Guzmán has been held without bail since he was extradited in January.

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