Joaquin Guzman, alias “El Chapo,” the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, is reportedly willing to agree to a plea deal for drug trafficking charges in the United States, if the prosecution agrees to not send him to a maximum security prison.
In an interview with Univision published February 6, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s attorney, José Refugio Rodriguez, said that El Chapo is “willing to accept his culpability for the charges that the United States seeks.” Guzman was recently arrested by Mexican authorities after escaping prison for a second time.
Rodriguez also stated that he would ask the prosecution that his client not be “held in a maximum-security prison where he would not have contact with other inmates or where he would not see the light of the sun for more than an hour a day.”
According to Business Insider, Rodriguez may be referring to ADX Florence, the maximum security prison also known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” where the former leader of the Gulf Cartel, Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, is currently serving a 25-year sentence.
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Rodriguez may be attempting to pull a sympathy card in favor of El Chapo. After discussing the conditions he would ask for in the deal, Rodriguez later admitted that the US hasn’t even addressed the “possibility of negotiations.”
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Moreover, US prosecutors presumably already have a very strong case built up against El Chapo, given his involvement in drug trafficking since the 1980s. Chapo’s so-called “willingness” to accept the charges against him will not be the determining factor in whether or not he is extradited to the US.
The bigger influencing factor is the Mexican government’s willingness to assist in the extradition process. President Enrique Peña Nieto said last month that Mexico is seeking to extradite El Chapo “as soon as possible.”
The US would be more likely to agree to some sort of a deal if El Chapo agreed to testify about the Sinaloa Cartel’s expansive criminal network. Since his capture last month, Mexican officials have been pressuring Guzman to give up corrupt government figures that have assisted the Sinaloa Cartel, which is considered one of the largest and most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world.