Conditions at Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s new Manhattan digs are worse than those found at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, according to a declassified report cited by the New York Daily News.
Ahmed Ghailani, who spent more than two years at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan where Guzman is held, said the Cuban facility is “more pleasant” and “more relaxed.”
The Tanzania native is now serving a life sentence in Colorado for his role in the bombings of two American embassies in East Africa in 1998.
Ghailani said his only human interaction at MCC was with guards during frequent strip searches. By comparision, while he was at Guantanamo Bay, “he was able to recreate with others, to access DVDs and in general felt that the atmosphere provided more freedom to detainees,” Gregory Saathoff said in the declassified report. Saathoff is a psychiatry professor at Virginia University who wrote the report based on conversations he had with Ghailani in 2010.
Another inmate who was incarcerated for two years said in a published report that the jail's lights are kept on for 23 to 24 hours a day, causing inmates to often lose some of their eyesight.
David Patton, one of Guzman’s lawyers, told The New York Times that MCC’s solitary confinement cells are “horrifying and inhumane.” “The fluorescent lights are always on … The only sound is the occasional clanking of metal when doors are opened and closed,” he added.
Guzman, who escaped two high-security prisons prior to his extradition to the U.S. last week, led the Sinaloa drug cartel. The organization is possibly the world’s largest smuggling operation of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine that, in the course of a decade, killed more than 100,000 people, Reuters reported.
Guzman is awaiting trial in Brooklyn and faces 17 criminal counts and a mandatory minimium sentence of life in prison. It is unknown if he will remain in MCC’s high-security wing or be transferred to a larger facility in Sunset Park.