Judge Keeps El Chapo in Solitary Confinement

NEW YORK (AP) -

Mexican escape artist Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman needs to stay in solitary confinement at a Lower Manhattan lockup to keep him from trying to control his massive drug-trafficking empire from behind bars, a judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan agreed to let Guzman communicate with his wife about his defense but only through screened letters.

Guzman, 59, was brought to the United States in January. Since then, he’s has been locked up for 23 hours a day in a 20-by-12-foot cell his lawyers call unconstitutional. The government countered that the conditions are appropriate for someone who escaped twice from prison in Mexico by using coded messages and bribes to direct his cronies.

Cogan also rejected a demand by Amnesty International to assess conditions, calling it “superfluous.”