Letter from inmate 89914053: ‘El Chapo’ wants company

The Sinaloa Cartel leader asks Judge Brian Cogan to authorize visits from Emma Coronel and the two daughters he has with former beauty queen

Luis Pablo Beauregard
Chapo Guzmán
Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on his arrival in the US in 2017.Reuters

El Chapo Guzmán is alone. The Sinaloa Cartel leader has been locked up in the maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado, for four years. This week he asked Judge Brian Cogan for permission to be visited in prison by Emma Coronel and his two minor daughters. In a handwritten letter, the 66-year-old drug trafficker asked the judge to consider the request once his wife is released on parole on September 13. The influencer and former beauty queen, Guzmán’s third wife, was granted house arrest last June and has been in a Los Angeles residence since then, preparing for her return to freedom. “She will be able to travel anywhere in the country. From that date forward she will be on probation,” says El Chapo.

Guzmán claims in his letter that prosecutors in the case had objected to the drug boss meeting with Coronel during his trial in New York a few years ago. The prosecution’s argument was that the wife of the leader of the criminal organization could help him intimidate the witnesses who testified against him during the historic trial. “This is ridiculous since all conversations during the visits are recorded. There are also cameras,” the cartel boss writes in the letter in which he refers to himself in the third person. The fear of intimidation, he argues, is no longer real as “Guzmán has been sentenced” and “there aren’t even any hearings.” Nevertheless, El Chapo still has another drug trafficking trial pending in Chicago.

El Chapo not only asks Cogan for Coronel’s presence, but also for the daughters he has with her, Emali Guadalupe and María Joaquina. “The children are in school in Mexico and can only travel to visit their father during the vacation period, 2 times a year [or] 3 times at most”. The children are 12 years old and have U.S. citizenship, as they were born in Los Angeles. Guzmán claims that his mother and siblings cannot visit him in Colorado because they do not have a visa to enter the United States.

Cogan’s office received the document on Wednesday and made it public this Friday. It is not the first communication the judge has received from one of his most famous sentenced inmates. A few weeks ago, Guzmán wrote to him to complain about the prison authorities, who keep him and the other 320 inmates under strict surveillance in their cells and with only one hour a day in the open air. The drug lord also claims that the warden does not allow him to receive defense documents. He says they use the excuse of him having escaped prison in Mexico, which he considers “ridiculous”.

Guzmán, however, did not just escape from one prison in his home country. He embarrassed prison authorities and two different governments in the process by fleeing Mexico’s two strictest detention centers. The first time was in 2001 under President Vicente Fox and the second in 2015 under Enrique Peña Nieto, after carrying out a movie-like escape. U.S. authorities do not rule out that Guzmán’s communication with his lawyers is aimed at plotting a new attempt. No one has escaped from the Colorado Supermax since it began operations in 1994. The facility is known as the Alcatraz of the Rocky Mountains.

Since 2021, the criminal had reported being the victim of cruel and unjust treatment since his extradition to the United States in 2017. The capo noted that the imprisonment was affecting him physically and mentally, causing him headaches, memory loss, cramps and depression. “I have suffered a lot,” said the kingpin, who is serving a life sentence with an added 30 years in prison. In addition, Cogan has ordered him to pay $12 billion for the damages his company has done.

In another letter made public in March, Guzmán again complained about the harsh conditions of his solitary confinement. In three pages, in addition to requesting some benefits in his trial, the criminal stated that the authorities have only allowed him nine phone calls with his lawyer over the course of a year. He considered it highly discriminatory. On that occasion, El Chapo apologized to the judge for not sending his communication earlier. It took more than a month to get a postage stamp for the letter to leave the inmate’s cell 89914053 and go to the outside world.

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