Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has changed his tune and now wants to be extradited to the United States as soon as possible. Basically, because he wants to get some sleep.
José Refugio Rodríguez, a lawyer for the drug kingpin, said on Wednesday that Guzmán wants to leave the maximum-security prison in Mexico because the guards are not letting him sleep.
He told Radio Formula that he spoke to Guzmán on Tuesday at the Altiplano prison west of Mexico City and was told to negotiate with U.S. authorities for a lighter sentence and confinement at a medium-security prison.
"He has reached the limit," Rodríguez said. "It is an act of desperation."
"He said to try to get a negotiation with the American government," Rodríguez said, adding, "We know of agreements with other people for confinement in medium-security prisons ... a much lower sentence."
It was unclear what kind of agreements Rodríguez was referring to; though some Mexican drug suspects have reached some form of plea deals with U.S. authorities in the past, it is not clear any have ever been able to negotiate terms on where they will be held.
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said it does not comment on extraditions.
Officials have acknowledged that guards at the Altilplano prison wake Guzmán every four hours for a head count. He escaped the same prison in July and was recaptured in January.
The harsher regime — Guzmán also has fewer visits than during his last stint in prison — seems to have broken him.
"I saw a defeated, humiliated man," Rodríguez said.
Guzmán's lawyers had previously vowed to fight extradition as long as possible, and Mexican officials had acknowledged it would take at least a year and perhaps more for the extradition process to work its way through Mexican courts.
But Rodríguez suggested it could be completed in two months, presumably if Guzmán dropped an estimated nine appeals his lawyers have filed.
However, Rodríguez said, "We won't drop the (legal) defense in Mexico until we have an agreement with the United States."
In February, Rodríguez gave the Associated Press a copy of Guzmán's testimony in one of the cases against him. In it, the jailed drug lord accused prison authorities of torturing him "by waking him up," and said, "I feel like a sleepwalker."
"My head and my ears always hurt, and I feel bad all over," Guzmán said in the document.
The testimony also sheds light on the relatively permissive visitors' schedule Guzmán had enjoyed at the maximum-security prison before his escape in July. It has been reduced since he was recaptured in January.
Guzmán said that previously he had been give an hour and a half every day to talk to his lawyer and an hour in the sun in a prison patio. Every nine days, he was allowed a four-hour conjugal visit and a four-hour family visit.
National security commissioner Renato Sales, whose responsibilities include overseeing federal prisons, said at a news conference Monday that Guzmán's human rights are in no way being violated now at the Altiplano prison.
Sales pointed out that Guzmán has escaped twice from Mexican prisons, the first time in January 2001, from a different maximum-security prison. He spent 13 years at large until at last being captured in Mazatlán.
"Shouldn't someone who twice escaped from maximum security prisons be subject to special security measures? The common sense answer is yes," Sales said.
Guzmán faces charges in a number of federal courts across the country, and authorities have not said which U.S. prosecutors will have the first crack at the drug lord. Therefore, at this point there is no one to negotiate such a deal — not that anyone would likely be willing to do so before Guzmán had even set foot in a U.S. courtroom.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.