Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is allegedly being tortured in prison, one of his lawyers claimed on Monday (26 September). Attorney Jose Refugio Rodriguez said Guzman's legal team has proof that the Sinaloa cartel leader is suffering from acute isolation.
"Cruel and unusual treatment is torture," Rodriguez said, according to CBS News. Guzman's defence team and family have said in the past that he is being barred from mixing with other inmates, cannot get sleep and is not allowed to receive enough visits. These issues have reportedly led to spikes in Guzman's blood pressure and levels of anxiety.
According to a medical report, Guzman has symptoms of "generalised anxiety disorder and mild neurocognitive impairment" which "prove that he is being submitted to mistreatment during his incarceration".
Fox News Latino reported that Guzman's legal team is fighting to have him moved from a federal prison on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, to the maximum security El Altiplano prison in central Mexico.In July 2015, Guzman managed to escape from El Altiplano via a mile-long tunnel. He was captured in January 2016.
Guzman underwent a two-hour evaluation by Dr Julio Cesar Ayuzo Gonzales on 24 August. Ayuzo Gonzales reported the cartel boss was taking his anxiety medication but should still be seen by mental health specialists.
"I found the evaluated male seemingly older than his chronological age, fit, well preserved, clean, wearing clothes provided the institution," Ayuzo Gonzales wrote.
"He was oriented as for place and circumstance, but not so when it came to the date; he was sitting on a chair, he could not stay in the same position during the interview, he did little eye contact with his interviewer; his language was coherent; he speaks fast, in low volume and quantity; his affects appeared flat and incongruous, describe as 'I am not well'; his train of thought is linear, logical, with a tendency to perseverance; he denied the presence of suicidal or death ideation," he added.
However, the doctor found Guzman was having "auditory hallucinations".
The Mexican government has said that special security measures are needed to ensure Guzman will not escape again. His break from Altiplano prison in 2015 was his second escape and, following his recapture, Guzman was woken up every few hours for head counts and regularly moved between cells, CBS News reported.
Guzman's lawyers have filed appeals seeking to prevent his extradition to the US, where he faces charges for drug-trafficking, money-laundering, weapons and murder. Rodriguez said the torture allegations are not part of those appeals.