Former El Chapo bodyguard complains about U.S. prison conditions
The Chapo's bodyguard, who was extradited from Mexico a month ago
May 5, 2023 7:29am
Updated: May 5, 2023 9:21am
Bodyguard Jorge Iván Gastélum, also known as "El Cholo Iván," who worked for Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, is complaining about living in allegedly harsh conditions in a U.S. prison, according to a legal document filed by his defense attorney, Alfred Guillaume.
In a legal document, his attorney Alfred Guillaume requested that the District of Columbia Court order the transfer of El Cholo Iván to another area of the Alexandria federal detention center in Virginia where he is being held, or to another prison.
The Chapo's bodyguard, who was extradited from Mexico a month ago, is being held under "improperly harsh conditions that do not meet acceptable standards," according to his lawyer's account.
He criticized that the accused is only allowed out of his cell for two hours a day, between midnight and two in the morning, to bathe and call his family in Mexico. Additionally, El Cholo Iván "cannot sleep all night" due to the noise from the constant influx of new inmates and because the lights are on 24 hours a day in his area, and is given only one blanket.
They have filed a motion asking for his transfer to another area of the prison or to a different facility, citing "inhumane treatment".
The defense argues that the jail is refusing to move him to another area because of his high-profile status as a prisoner.
"El Cholo Ivan" is facing charges of drug trafficking conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and 30 years for weapons-related crimes. He was extradited to the U.S. from Mexico last month.
Based on court records, Gastelum Avila held a prominent position in the Sinaloa Cartel, an international drug trafficking organization led by Joaquin Guzman Loera (known as El Chapo) and Ismael Zambada Garcia (known as El Mayo) from August 2009 to January 2016.
The Sinaloa Cartel is a violent, cross-border drug trafficking group based in Mexico that is involved in the production, distribution, and transportation of large quantities of cocaine and marijuana from various South American countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras to Mexico and the United States.
Additionally, Gastelum Avila was allegedly one of the Sinaloa Cartel's top assassins and had close ties with Guzman Loera at the time of his apprehension, according to the court documents. He was purportedly the "plaza boss" of Guamúchil, Sinaloa, Mexico, where he managed around 200 armed individuals and oversaw drug trafficking operations in the region.
The accused helped Chapo escape on January 8, 2016, from a federal operation in a home in the town of Los Mochis, Sinaloa.
Both fled through the sewer tunnels, but several hours later they surfaced and stole a vehicle, which was intercepted by federal police on a highway and the two were captured.
While Chapo was extradited to the United States in 2017 and sentenced to life in prison in 2019, El Cholo Iván had remained in custody of Mexican authorities until a month ago.
Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán was a notorious Mexican drug lord who was responsible for leading the Sinaloa cartel, one of the largest and most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world. While it is not known how many people he personally killed, it is widely believed that El Chapo was responsible for ordering the deaths of many people, including rival drug traffickers, law enforcement officials, and innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of cartel violence.
(With information from EFE)