The Unfair Treatment of El Chapo: Dog-Like Conditions in US Prisons

Chapo Arrest by Edgard-Garrido-Reuters
Chapo Arrest by Edgard-Garrido-Reuters

It’s no secret that the US prison system has been long criticized for its unfair treatment of inmates. But the case of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has shed light on an even darker side of the system – one that is cruel and inhumane. El Chapo is the notorious Mexican drug lord who was sentenced to life in prison in 2019. Since then, he has been subjected to dog-like conditions in US prisons, which have sparked outrage among human rights activists. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history of unfair treatment in US prisons, the current state of US prisons, and the inhumane conditions that El Chapo is being subjected to.

El Chapo’s Unfair Treatment in US Prisons

Since his arrival in New York, he’s had no contact with his wife Emma Coronel, family, or Mexican legal team. The Department of Justice has argued that his family helped engineer his elaborate escape from Mexican prisons.

The conditions that El Chapo is subjected to are so extreme that they have sparked outrage among human rights activists. In fact, the UN has even called the US prison system’s treatment of El Chapo “inhumane.” This is especially concerning given the fact that El Chapo is a high-profile prisoner and is being treated as if he is a dangerous criminal.

El Chapo pleads with Mexican president for assistance: ‘I haven’t seen the sun light in 5 years’

The figure of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman – a name well-known to many as one of the most renowned drug traffickers of all time – has been in the headlines again recently.

In a Colorado maximum security prison, El Chapo is serving a life sentence. His son, Ovidio Guzman, was recently arrested by Mexican authorities in a violent incident as reported here. Through a letter from his lawyer, Jose Refugio Rodriguez, El Chapo is now voicing his dissatisfaction with American Prison conditions and inhumane treatment.

The lawyers argue his First, Fifth and Sixth Amendments are being violated by the current terms of his imprisonment.

He’s locked up 23 hours a day. His wife can’t visit him. He can’t call anyone, except his lawyers. He even was denied water, his lawyers say.

He’s permitted a single hour of solitary exercise in another cell that contains one treadmill and one bike.

His meals are passed through a slot in the door. The light is always on.

Guzman purchased a small clock from the commissary, but it was later taken from his cell with no explanation. He also purchased a small radio from the commissary which has remained in his possession and is his only contact with the outside world.

The strict jail conditions for notorious Mexican drug lord and escape artist Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman were outlined on in 2017 by defense attorneys in a failed bid to get a judge to loosen them.

Guzman smiled at his common-law wife, Emma Coronel, as he was led into the Brooklyn courtroom under heavy guard by deputy U.S. marshals at his second court appearance since being brought to the United States.


The wife of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Emma Coronel Aispuro, exits the federal courthouse in Brooklyn after a hearing in Guzman’s case on Feb. 3, 2017, in New York. Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
The wife of “El Chapo”, Emma Coronel Aispuro, exits the US Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn after a hearing in the case of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman on February 3, 2017 in New York.
Guzman, accused of running one of the world’s biggest drug empires, was extradited to the United States on January 19, 2017 and appeared without handcuffs and without incident to plead not guilty to a raft of firearms, drug trafficking and conspiracy charges during a brief hearing on January 20. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)


In a communication to Esteban Moctezuma, who is the Mexican ambassador to the United States, El Chapo voiced his grievances concerning the purported illegalities of the extradition that sent him to the United States more than five years ago. More than anything, the letter is a complaint, imploring for his living conditions to be enhanced.

El Chapo’s lawyer, Rodriguez, shared details of a letter in which the drug kingpin stated “I have not seen the light of day” to Ciro Gomez Leyva, a renowned Mexican journalist, on his radio program.

In September of 2021, a drug trafficker submitted a statement to an American court in which he outlined his grievances: mistreatment, solitary confinement, and a lack of attention given to his medical issues. The affidavit, which was released to the public months after being posted, stated: “I have endured immense suffering. Because of the atmosphere in ADMAX [the prison where he is serving his sentence], I am now plagued by headaches, memory loss, muscle cramps, stress, and depression.”

The past head of the Sinaloa Cartel is requesting that the Mexican government step in to help him. He is particularly appealing to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to investigate the actions taken during the term of the past president.

During the 2012-2018 term of Enrique Peña Nieto, after the recapture of El Chapo due to two escapes, the PRI party leader had the drug lord transferred to the United States. According to El Chapo’s lawyer, this violated the extradition agreement between the two countries. The attorney further commented that they are requesting that Lopez Obrador consider the breach of human rights by the Peña Nieto administration, headed by Luis Videgaray at the Foreign Relations Department, because El Chapo was transferred without the chance to defend himself in his homeland. Rodriguez made these remarks in a radio interview.

An interesting moment has arisen now that Guzman’s defender has chosen to make a statement. This past Tuesday, the highly awaited trial began in NYC involving the ex-Mexican secretary of public security – Genaro Garcia Luna – for charges of bribery, drug trafficking and organized crime during the former president Felipe Calderon’s right-wing rule (2006-2012). This was the same time period in which the war on drug cartels was initiated.

Prosecutors state that the ex-security chief cooperated with the Sinaloa Cartel, which was spearheaded by El Chapo. Lopez Obrador has asserted various times that Calderon won the 2006 presidential elections based on fraud and bribery from the Sinaloa group.

In the month of May, 2019, Maria Consuelo Loera, the mother of El Chapo, sent a plea to President Lopez Obrador, requesting him to take action in the legal proceedings of her son and to oppose the U.S. authorities. Additionally, she implored him to enable the drug trafficker to be able to have visits from family members.

During his visit to Sinaloa, the president – who had retained a good rapport with El Chapo’s mother – welcomed her and declared that he had given instructions so that his siblings could visit him in accordance with the applicable laws of the United States.

The ramifications of the president’s actions on the situation of El Chapo’s captivity remain uncertain. However, he has turned to the medium of writing to make his voice heard once more.

The letter, penned by both El Chapo and his lawyer, states that since Guzman’s arrival in the US, he has endured harsh treatment while being held in confinement.

Rodriguez states that the solitary confinement of someone with no contact with other people, without the guards being able to communicate with them in Spanish, is an affront to human dignity and an infringement of human rights and basic liberty.

The History of Unfair Treatment in US Prisons

The US prison system has a long history of unfair and inhumane treatment of inmates. For decades, prisoners have been subjected to overcrowding, poor sanitation, and inadequate medical care. In addition, inmates have been subjected to excessive force and abuse by guards. This has resulted in a prison system that is often seen as cruel and inhumane.

The situation has only gotten worse in recent years. In 2011, the US Department of Justice determined that almost all US prisons fail to meet minimum standards for health and safety. This is particularly concerning given the fact that the US prison population is at an all-time high. As a result, overcrowding and inadequate medical care have become even more of a problem.

The Current State of Prisons in the US

The current state of US prisons is bleak. Inmates are subjected to overcrowding, inadequate medical care, and dangerous conditions. Inmates are often denied access to basic necessities such as food, water, and sanitation. This has resulted in an environment that is often seen as cruel and inhumane.

Furthermore, inmates are subjected to excessive force and abuse by guards. Inmates are often placed in solitary confinement for long periods of time, and they are not allowed to communicate with family or receive visitors. In addition, inmates are often denied access to legal counsel and are not allowed to receive adequate medical care.


Guzman has been incarcerated for six years now and has never been allowed to leave his cell for even a short moment to get some sunlight. Since March of 2022, the authorities have authorized only six phone calls with his attorney.


In conclusion, the US prison system has a long history of unfair and inhumane treatment of inmates. The current state of US prisons is bleak, and inmates are subjected to overcrowding, inadequate medical care, and dangerous conditions. The case of El Chapo has shed light on an even darker side of the system – one that is cruel and inhumane. El Chapo has been subjected to some of the harshest conditions of any inmate in the US prison system, and his treatment has sparked outrage among human rights activists. It is time for the US prison system to end its inhumane treatment of inmates and ensure that all inmates are treated fairly and humanely.

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