According to a Univision exclusive interview of one of Chapo Guzmán’s attorneys, José Refugio Rodríguez, the drug kingpin seems to be willing to plead guilty in a US courtroom to drug trafficking charges. That is, if certain conditions are met by the US government. Rodríguez told Univision on February 6 that Joaquín Guzmán is willing to be extradited to the United States provided that he is not incarcerated in a maximum security prison and that his sentences are negotiated prior to his arrival in the US.
According to Rodríguez, Guzmán fears being incarcerated in a super max prison where he would be held in a cell 24 hours a day and would have no contact with other prisoners. Chapo Guzmán has a battery of attorneys providing legal services in many jurisdictions in Mexico. Except for Rodríguez, Guzmán’s other attorneys are attempting to delay the drug kingpin’s extradition to the US. Guzmán, like other drug dealers, has expressed a fear of being extradited to the US.
At the same time that one of his attorneys has floated the idea that Guzmán may be willing to serve time in the US, rumors have begun to surface that US prosecutors in New York are the frontrunners on who will prosecute Guzmán once he reaches the US. There are at least six other US jurisdictions where Guzmán faces charges, including one indictment in El Paso, Texas.
Although it is not clear what authority, if any, José Rodríguez has to negotiate a US transfer for his client, the idea that Guzmán may now be willing to be extradited as not as farfetched as it might sound. Chapo Guzmán is being held under extraordinary prison conditions in Mexico. The Mexican government is afraid that Guzmán may escape prison again. In addition, the Mexican government has expressed a willingness to extradite Guzmán as quickly as possible.
Reports that have trickled out indicate that Chapo Guzmán is being randomly moved from cell to cell and is under a 24-hour watch. His other attorneys have been complaining to news media outlets that Guzmán is unable to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time as he is being awaken every two hours for inspection. The attorneys are also complaining that they are unable to provide Guzmán with necessities nor are they able to meet with him as requested. Chapo Guzmán has complained, through his attorneys, that he is constantly cold and is isolated from others.
One news report reported that dogs have been especially trained to guard the drug kingpin in prison. Chapo has complained that one dog is “boisterous.” This time around, his cells have no blind spots.
In addition, the expedited process that appears to be occurring in Mexico makes it highly doubtful that Chapo Guzmán could organize another escape prior to his extradition. He must now understand that he will be extradited and thus he is attempting to negotiate with US prosecutors.
For Chapo Guzmán, his isolation and prison conditions are also likely making him willing to negotiate his way out of his current predicament. For the Mexican government, the cost of the resources to ensure that Guzmán does not escape again makes it likely that the Mexican government wants to get rid of Guzmán as quickly as possible. The longer they have to keep him in jail the more expensive it is for the Mexican government, not to mention the disruption of the prison system. For Mexico, the current use of resources is unsustainable over a long period of time. For that reason, it makes sense that Mexican officials are applying psychological pressure on Chapo Guzmán. It is to make him want to drop his fight against extradition quicker. Isolation, cold and keeping him awake is a classic PsyOps operation.
It is still too early to know when Guzmán will be extradited but indications seem to indicate that the extradition process is in motion. Guzmán’s attorneys can delay the process and therefore it makes sense to discourage the delays. If José Refugio Rodríguez remains as one of Chapo’s attorneys, then it is likely he had the authority from Guzmán to send a clear signal to US authorities that Guzmán is ready to negotiate.