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Is El Chapo Guzman Going Crazy, I think Not!
Larry Levine --  Wall Street Prison Consultants Larry Levine -- Wall Street Prison Consultants
Los Angeles , CA
Thursday, November 09, 2017


Is El Chapo Guzman Going Crazy, I think Not!


Larry Jay Levine

One of my favorite movie lines of all time is from Psycho II, the 1983 sequel to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller Psycho. The line runs in the flick's opening scene, where a fictional judge slams down his gavel and deems murderer Norman Bates mentally competent by uttering the classic line, "Your sanity's hereby been restored!" It's hard to imagine that with the slap of a gavel a judge could legally remove or restore someone's sanity at will. But it's true!

It's happening inside a New York Federal Courtroom right now, where a real Judge, Brian Cogan of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, has the responsibility and power to decide the mental competency and fitness to stand trial of one of the most notorious narcotics traffickers in the world, Mexican Drug Lord El Chapo Guzman, the 60 year old former kingpin of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel. Judge Cogan just affirmed Guzman's defense lawyer's motion, and ordered that he see a shrink and be evaluated as to his mental state.

It appears Guzman's lawyers are going to try and stall the case going to trial by having a mental health care practitioner deem him mentally unfit, using a tactic called the "Diminished Capacity" defense which I'll touch on in a bit.

According to the DEA who labeled Guzman the "godfather of the drug world," Guzman holds the world record for importing more illegal drugs (500 tons) into the U.S. than any person in history. He currently faces an impressive multi-state laundry list of federal criminal charges in California, Illinois, New York, Texas, Florida and New Hampshire.

Guzman's Indictment charges he allegedly ran a (CCE) continuing criminal enterprise spanning over 20 years of globally importing and distributing massive amounts of narcotics, conspiring to murder and kidnap rivals, using firearms in drug trafficking crimes, and laundering over $14 billion in cash from illegal narcotics sales from the U.S. in to Mexico. If convicted, the former drug kingpin faces life in prison with no hope of parole.

The five feet six inch "El Chapo", whose been called "Houdini," has a history of pulling off disappearing acts. He'd escaped from two high security prisons in Mexico and had been on the run for months, before being captured in an early morning January, 2016 shootout in a costal Sinaloa town with Mexican Marines and Federal Police that left several people dead.

The U.S. had been trying to extradite El Chapo to the U.S. for years, and once El Chapo was back in Mexican custody, Uncle Sam wasted no time leaning on Mexico to get Chapo's ass shipped to the U.S. for trial.  After months of legal negotiations, the U.S. and Mexico hammered out an agreement that the U.S. wouldn't subject El Chapo to a U.S. death penalty laws, and a preliminary deal was reached. El Chapo spent his time along with some big bucks after being captured filing appeals in the Mexican judicial system trying block any extradition, but in the end his appeals were shot down and his time had run out.  

On the cold winter night of January 19 2017, El Chapo was shackled up with leg irons and handcuffs by the Mexican Federal Police for the last time. He was placed aboard a Mexican Air Force executive jet, Tail Number: XB-NWD at Ciudad Juárez International Airport, and flown nonstop to Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, New York.  After U.S. Federal Agents signed the extradition transfer documents, El Chapo was led off the plane wearing gray pants and a gray shirt by heavily armed US Marshals, DEA and Homeland Security Agents, and formerly taken into U.S. Custody.

Uncle Sam plays for keeps, and once they had El Chapo in their grasp, they weren't letting go! Any hopes Chapo had of repeating his past escape artist exploits were over. He's locked up tight, monitored by CCTV 24 hours a day, in a high security prison unit that's been home to Gambino Crime Boss John Gotti, Ponzi King Bernie Madoff, and several Al Qaeda figures inside the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 10 story High Rise, (MCC New York) Metropolitan Correctional Center in Downtown Manhattan, in what his lawyers have called total isolation.

Chapo's new home is a one man solitary confinement cell on MCC's 10 South housing unit, a high security wing known as the (SHU) Special Housing Unit completely isolated from other inmates. He eats his meals in his cell, sleeps on a thin mattress on a concrete pad with the lights running at all times. His daily routine is limited to one hour of exercise in a small interior cage, with no access to fresh air, sunlight, television, or family visits, with telephone use restricted to calls to his wife.

In order to reduce security risks that Chapo might try corrupting BOP staff, the Department of Justice has limited the number of corrections officers who have access to him with each undergoing extra screenings by federal Bureau of Prisons officials.

In an unusual twist I've never seen in all my years of being a federal inmate, El Chapo's defense lawyers can only interact with him under extreme limitations. They can't confer together in the visiting room like other inmates, nor can they have any type of contact visit with him at all. Their sole means of communication other than legal mail is from secure cubicles, using video messaging while separated by a scratched and dirty Plexiglas window with a slot to pass through documents.

El Chapo's lawyers claimed in court filings the strict confinement MCC staff has placed him in have put him at risk of psychological damage. They stated Chapo may already be "hearing non-existent sounds," that he's hallucinating, and hearing "Mexican music" which may negatively affect his ability to stand trial. His lawyers said that if the psych eval shows any mental deterioration, they'll push for more lenient accommodation. Several other MCC alumni who've been held there said, "It was common for inmates to go nuts due to sleep deprivation and partially lose their eyesight, because the prisons fluorescent lights are kept on 23 or 24 hours a day".

Having spent collectively over 2 years at MCC New York's sister facility, the 9 story (MDC) Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles during 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2007 while serving a ten year federal sentence for various crimes, I can relate to some of the noises Guzman is experiencing because I heard the same sounds too!

MCC and MDC are similarly built high rise prisons with common electrical, water pipes, heating, and air-conditioning vents. To save expenses during construction, everything is stacked with a floor's utilities connected with every floor above and below it.  Even toilet drains sit on common lines.

I was held for 21 months in cell number 655-N, in MDC L.A. housing unit 6 North. When anyone in a cell below and above me flushed their toilet…I knew. Plain as day, I could hear the water flowing through pipes in the walls, and that held true for the cell next to me 653-N as well, because we had a common wall and I could hear every time they flushed along with the people above and below them. Same with my cell's sink drain. It constantly made gurgling and burping noises as water passed through the common drain pipes. When someone slammed into a wall on another floor, I heard the walls vibrate. Logic would hold true that El Chapo Guzman would be hearing these very same types of noises? I truly believe it's unlikely he's imagining it!

The inmates at MDC found clever ways to communicate between floors and pass messages. All day long inmates would shout between floors like a huge telephone party line or CB Radio Channel. The message usually started with what floor you were on. Yelling voices blaring "5 North" through every floor up to "8 North" where the SHU was, to "9 North" where the women were held, came blasting out the vents in cells across my housing unit at all hours.  And you were expected to answer and find whoever they were looking for.

Mexican inmates drunk on prison made Pruno (booze) or high on drugs smuggled in by staff, would shout "Cat Calls" and sing songs in Spanish and serenade the ladies on the 9th floor through the vents and the sounds would vibrate through the walls. I don't believe El Chapo is going nuts because I would hear the "Mexican Music" too.    

A little five foot nothing guy I knew named Gino who was on trial for bank robbery, used my cell vent to carry on a prison relationship with a lady on 9 North named Monica who was charged with mortgage fraud. The shit you would hear people talking over those vents was nuts!

If El Chapo's lawyers plan to use the "strange sound" theory as a basis that he has some type of diminished capacity, or is mentally impaired and can't stand trial, I think they're sunk; because any man who ran the kind of organized criminal empire Guzman did knew and knows exactly what they're doing. Diminished capacity defenses are based on your inability to stand trial because you are unaware and lack the knowledge that what you did was wrong or illegal. In other words, you didn't understand it!

El Chapo knows why he's there, he knows what he's charged with, and the Feds have a mountain of evidence against him that goes back decades. While he stands to serve a life sentence for his crimes, it's reasonably unconceivable his legal team would be able to convince a jury anywhere in the world that El Chapo Guzman was unaware of his activities or their legality.  

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Larry Levine
Wall Street Prison Consultants
Los Angeles, CA