El Chapo denied outdoor exercise, earplugs and commissary access
Judge says it's 'plausible' he might try to escape
By Nancy Dillon
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — Prison is a real downer, and El Chapo better get used to its rigid rules, a judge said Monday.
The drug kingpin’s requests for outdoor exercise time, earplugs and unrestricted commissary access were denied by Brooklyn federal Judge Brian Cogan in a four-page order that cited the seriousness of Chapo’s crimes and his famous history of jailbreaks.
“Defendant’s conditions of confinement are tailored to his specific history, including two prior prison escapes,” Cogan wrote in the order issued two weeks after prosecutors said Chapo’s demands could be part of an elaborate ruse to bust out of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan.
Cogan said that while Chapo’s conduct has been “exemplary” at the MCC so far, “that conduct is a direct consequence of the strict conditions” imposed on him.
Prosecutors noted that in 1981, a prisoner’s cohorts hijacked a tourist helicopter and tried to cut through wire screening atop the MCC’s rooftop recreation area in a failed escape try.
Cogan said Monday it is “plausible” that Chapo “could try to recreate such an escape attempt if the opportunity presented itself.”
The denial of outdoor exercise time means Chapo, 62, will have to make do with his current access to an indoor exercise bike, an elliptical machine and a vented window.
In denying Chapo’s request for unfettered commissary access, Cogan cited prosecutors’ argument that inmates can fashion weapons out of mundane items.
In terms of earplugs, Cogan called Chapo’s request “illogical” because the convicted drug lord complained about putting anything in his ears during trial.
“If earphones exacerbated his ear condition during trial, I do not see how using earplugs will help the condition now,” the judge wrote.
Chapo was convicted Feb. 12 of international drug trafficking and federal murder conspiracy charges. Jurors decided he was a “principal” boss of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, triggering a mandatory life sentence.
He’s expected to be sentenced to life without parole.
Chapo’s defense is appealing the conviction, claiming jurors unfairly followed the case in the media and were exposed to damaging allegations not admitted at trial.
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