Once-secretive 'El Chapo' launches PR blitz

MEXICO CITY -- The once-secretive Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has launched a public relations blitz, calling on his lawyers and even his common-law wife to keep his name in the news.

See Full Article

Emma Coronel, mother of Guzman's twin 4-year-old daughters, has given unprecedented media interviews, issuing dire warnings about his health and pressuring the government to improve the conditions he endures his third time behind bars.

His lawyers have gathered the media at Mexico's supreme court and outside the White House in Washington. On Friday, one of Guzman's lawyers called a news conference outside the maximum-security Altiplano prison where he's being held, and which he escaped from through a mile-long tunnel in July.

Wearing an "Extradition Never!!!" sweat shirt emblazoned with a photo of his client, attorney Jose Luis Gonzalez Meza said he planned to begin a hunger strike -- water and juice allowed. He called on Mexicans to join him.

Analysts say the publicity is all part of a carefully planned media strategy.

At the very least, Guzman hopes to negotiate the terms of his imprisonment in the United States should moves to extradite him succeed.

Another Guzman attorney, Jose Refugio Rodriguez, says that the drug lord wants to be sent to the U.S quickly and negotiate a guilty plea in exchange for a "reasonable" sentence in a medium-security prison in the United States.

Samuel Logan of the business and security consulting firm Southern Pulse said he doesn't believe the effort will work.

"El Chapo's folks are grasping at straws," he said. "I doubt the U.S. will negotiate on any level."

The PR campaign has featured Guzman's former beauty queen common-law wife giving her first-ever public interview in February.

Conservatively dressed and poised throughout her conversation with Telemundo, Coronel painted an image of "El Chapo" as a loving family man. She was careful to suggest his innocence, or at least not confirm his guilt.

"I'm not certain that he traffics drugs," she said.

Guzman's attorneys have publicly expressed concern for his health and criticized his treatment while jailed.

"How long is his body going to tolerate this state of stress that he's submitted to?" Rodriguez said last month after a 30-minute visit at Altiplano prison with Guzman. "If this doesn't stop, he is going to get sick and his life is at great risk."

Outside the prison Friday, Bernarda Guzman Loera, who said she was one of the drug lord's sisters, said his family was "very worried."

The drug lord's lawyers have filed several requests for injunctions in Mexican courts to stop his extradition. Rodriguez said Wednesday they won't drop those efforts until they get an agreement with U.S. prosecutors, an unrealistic scenario.

Things were a lot different for Guzman the last time he was in prison, after being captured the second time in 2014. Mexico's then-attorney general said the drug chieftain would only be extradited to the U.S. "in 300 or 400 years" after serving his Mexican sentence.

In a recent court filing shared by his lawyers, Guzman described a relatively permissive environment with plenty of access by outside visitors and some freedom to move around.

"Half a year ago I was in this place and had a daily visit of an hour and a half with my defence attorney," Guzman said in the filing, plus "a four-hour family visit every nine days and a four-hour intimate (conjugal) visit every nine days, a daily hour on the patio to go out and walk in the sun."

Raul Benitez, a security specialist who teaches political science at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said during that earlier imprisonment authorities "did not violate his human rights, quite the opposite. They practically let him open an office in the prison to run his businesses."

But then "El Chapo" pulled off a brazen escape, coolly stepping into a hole in the floor of his prison cell shower and whizzing to freedom on a motorcycle modified to run on tracks laid the length of the tunnel.

President Enrique Pena Nieto was embarrassed by the escape in July, Guzman's second from a maximum security prison. The first escape was in January 2001 from a prison in Jalisco state. After Guzman was recaptured in January of this year, Pena Nieto said the drug lord would be extradited.

Now, Guzman's visits with his lawyer and his wife are shorter and chaperoned. Guzman complains that frequent bed checks, barking dogs and regular prison racket keep him from sleeping and drive his blood pressure to dangerous levels.

National Security Commissioner Renato Sales has denied Guzman's claims that authorities are violating his rights.

"Shouldn't someone who twice escaped from maximum security prisons be subject to special security measures? The common sense answer is 'yes,"' Sales said.

Now, Logan said, "the politics are against him."

"Any backroom deals that he may have cut before are rendered null now that he escaped and embarrassed" Pena Nieto, he added. "He's a king in his own fiefdom in the interior of Sinaloa (state), but nationwide I think people are just tired of having him around."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Filipino troops kill notorious Abu Sayyaf kidnapper in clash

    World News CTV News
    MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine military chief says marines have killed an Abu Sayyaf extremist commander considered to be one of the most notorious kidnappers in the country's south. Military chief Gen. Eduardo Ano tells The Associated Press that Alhabsy Misaya was slain in a clash with marines late Friday in the jungles between the towns of Indanan and Parang in Sulu province. Source
  • Some U.S. lawmakers want parents charged in genital cutting cases

    World News CTV News
    ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Lawmakers in Minnesota and Texas are pushing to crack down on parents involved with genital cutting after an indictment against a Detroit-area doctor accused of performing the procedure on two young Minnesota girls highlighted the little-known practice. Source
  • Three men sentenced for stealing $18 million worth of maple syrup in Quebec

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    MONTREAL - Three men convicted in connection with the theft of $18 million worth of maple syrup in Quebec were sentenced on Friday to between two and eight years. Superior Court Justice Raymond Pronovost sentenced Richard Vallieres to eight years in prison, confiscated $606,500 from him and fined him another $9.4 million. Source
  • Donald Trump to NRA: 'Eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end' [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    ATLANTA - President Donald Trump reaffirmed his support for gun rights Friday, telling attendees of a National Rifle Association convention that “the eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.” Trump, the first sitting president to address the group’s annual convention in more than 30 years, assured the audience that he would defend their right to bear arms in a campaign-like speech reminiscent of his election rallies. Source
  • Friends hail slain 86-year-old Calif. woman as hero for allegedly defending friend

    World News CTV News
    NORTH HIGHLANDS, Calif. -- A young man was identified Friday as the suspect in the sexual assault and beating death of an 86-year-old California woman. She was remembered as a hero by investigators and neighbours after she used a walking stick to try to stop the alleged assailant from attacking her friend. Source
  • Conviction, 5-year sentence upheld for cop who faked crash reports

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A veteran police officer who prepared bogus accident reports in exchange for cash lost his bid on Friday to overturn his conviction and five-year prison term. In upholding the guilty finding, the Court of Appeal for Ontario rejected arguments from Peel Regional Police Const. Source
  • Major earthquake hits south of Philippines, no injuries reported

    World News CTV News
    MANILA, Philippines - Philippine officials say a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 has struck off a southern province and prompted a local tsunami warning, but there are no immediate reports of damage or injuries. Source
  • Videos reportedly show gruesome abuse of young boy who was fed to pigs

    World News Toronto Sun
    KANSAS CITY, MO. - Videos and photos from a home in Kansas where a 7-year-old boy’s remains were found in a pigsty show the boy suffered horrific abuse in the months before he died, the child’s maternal grandmother said. Source
  • Fentanyl suspected in 2 deaths in Newfoundland

    Canada News CTV News
    The drug fentanyl is suspected of killing two people and causing 14 other overdoses in Newfoundland and Labrador. The local health authority issued a warning Thursday, saying the drug is suspected of causing 15 overdoses, including one death. Source
  • Men sentenced up to 8 years for Quebec maple syrup heist

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Three men convicted in connection with the theft of $18 million worth of maple syrup in Quebec were sentenced on Friday to between two and eight years. Superior Court Justice Raymond Pronovost sentenced Richard Vallieres to eight years in prison, confiscated $606,500 from him and fined him another $9.4 million. Source