Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán is upset over his recent move to a prison located near the U.S.-Mexico border area, saying his cell there is “dirty and ugly” and makes visits more difficult, his defense attorney José Refugio Rodríguez told Fox News Latino on Tuesday.
Rodríguez said an appeal for legal protection – known in Mexico as an “amparo” – has been filed in an attempt to return the drug lord to the Altiplano maximum-security prison in Mexico City where he was previously housed.
“Joaquín is complaining that the cell is dirty and ugly,” Rodríguez said. “He also wants more favorable conditions for the family members, because [the new prison location] requires more effort, and it also has an impact on the defense.”
The new facility – the Cefereso No. 9 prison on the outskirts of Ciudad Juárez, across from El Paso, Texas – reportedly has more than 600 guards and several drones watching over the 53-year-old drug lord, who is being kept in isolation and moved to a different cell every 24 hours.
Rodríguez said the move came as a surprise to the defense. He denied reports that it was linked to the extradition process, which the defense is vowing to fight “until the end.”
On Monday, a Mexican judge cleared the way for the drug lord to be transferred to the U.S. after saying legal requirements laid out in the extradition treaty between the two countries had been met. Guzmán faces multiple charges in the U.S. for drug trafficking.
El Chapo’s attorney downplayed Monday’s ruling - saying it was expected and that the defense’s focus is on the Foreign Ministry's decision, which has the last word on the extradition request.
“That’s when the real battle against extradition starts,” Rodríguez told FNL.
The ministry is required to issue a decision within 20 days, after which the defense has a 30-day window to block the court-ordered transport to the U.S.
According to Rodríguez, this process typically takes between eight months and a year, and even longer if it goes to the Supreme Court — as he expects it to.
While Guzmán’s attorneys are adamant in that the drug lord should not be prosecuted in the U.S., Rodríguez reiterated that his client is willing to take a plea deal that would allow for his transfer to a U.S. prison under certain conditions.
“He will not go [to the U.S.] without anything firm,” he told FNL, refusing to elaborate any further.
He also denied news reports that Chapo would be going first to Brooklyn, since the formal extradition request made by the U.S. last year seeks to have him face charges in a 1996 case brought in San Diego.
Guzmán was notified of the judge's extradition decision on Sunday evening, a judicial authority official told the Associated Press. The official was not authorized to be quoted by name.