El Chapo is jonesing for some physical contact with his wife.
The jailed Mexican druglord is seeking court permission to hug his American-born former beauty queen wife before the start of opening statements in his trafficking trial next week.
And the notorious kingpin, whose real name is Joaquín Guzmán, is warning he might have a mental breakdown if the judge refuses.
“I respectfully write to request that Mr. Guzmán be allowed to give his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, a brief momentary greeting to include perhaps an embrace on Tuesday,” his lawyer, Mariel Colón Miró, wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan.
“It can be a brief embrace in open court with the courtroom railing between them. This entire process should not take more than a few seconds,” the lawyer wrote.
Miró said the court’s permission would amount to a “humanitarian gesture” for a man who’s been cut off from any contact with his spouse while held in solitary confinement in New York the last two years.
“The only human contact Mr. Guzmán has had since his extradition has been with the jail personnel when putting and removing his shackles, and a quick handshake from his attorneys when he goes to court,” Miró’s letter states.
“Mr. Guzmán has been confined to a very small, windowless cell for 23 hours a day Mondays through Fridays and 24 hours a day during the weekend. Except for legal visits, Mr. Guzmán has been completely isolated. As a result, Mr. Guzmán’s mental and emotional health have deteriorated,” the letter says.
“It is well known that solitary confinement poses negative effect to a person’s sanity,” it argues. “It is of dire concern that Mr. Guzmán’s deterioration of his mental and emotional health could lead potentially to a problem in his ability to effectively assist in his defense.”
Guzmán has pleaded not guilty to 17 counts of drug trafficking, conspiracy, firearms offenses and money laundering.
The man who rose from peasant farmer to become head of the Sinaloa drug cartel is accused of playing a role in at least 30 murders.
He famously staged two elaborate escapes from Mexican prisons, including one with a secret subterranean tunnel engineered with a mile-long track for a custom motorbike.
“I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats,” he told the actor Sean Penn in an infamous interview at his hideout in 2015.
Jury selection started Monday under tight security at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.
A jury of seven women and five men was selected Wednesday. Four women and two men will serve as alternates.
The panel includes three Spanish speakers — two fluent speakers on the jury and one conversational alternate.
Most of the jurors said they have basic knowledge of the case from reading media reports or watching Netflix shows.
Two jurors brought up the lavish “Barbie” themed birthday party that Aispuro threw for the couple’s twin daughters and posted about on Instagram.
Many of the jurors appeared to be left-leaning when asked about drug regulation and several have worked in — or have family in — law enforcement.
The panel includes three immigrants — a Polish woman, an Ethiopian woman who’s been in the U.S. some 30 years and has “no clue” who El Chapo is, and a South Asian man.
“It’s very important you don’t talk about the case,” Judge Cogan told the jury. “Talk about the weather, the elections — maybe not the elections, but not anything about this case.”
He warned the panelists they can’t discuss the case with outsiders either.
“You can tell people you’ve been selected to be a juror in a federal case, that’s all,” he said. “In addition, don’t let anybody talk to you about the case.”
About five minutes after the end of formal instructions, one juror met privately with the judge and begged to be excused. She said she works in media and overheard talk about the case from her coworkers.
“My concern is that is if one gets off with a few tears, we’re going to have a trail of tears,” defense lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman said.
Judge Cogan did not release the woman.