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US prosecutors claim ‘El Chapo’ had unauthorized contact with wife

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U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday claimed that a lawyer for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is currently on trial in Brooklyn federal court, helped arrange unauthorized contact between the accused Mexican drug lord and his wife, Emma Coronel.

In a motion filed before 2 a.m. EST, the prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan to impose sanctions on Guzman’s defense team. Much of the motion, including the nature of the sanctions sought, was redacted, and the lawyer accused of arranging the contact was not publicly identified.

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Lawyers for Guzman were not immediately available for comment.

Guzman, 61, faces 17 criminal counts and a possible sentence of life in prison. He has been subject to exceptionally tight security protocols, known as special administrative measures or SAMs, thanks to his two escapes from high-security Mexican prisons and what prosecutors have described as a history of intimidating witnesses.

Prosecutors said in Tuesday’s motion that some people, whose names were redacted, “appear to have used cellular telephones in concert with an attorney visit to the defendant following two trial days last week to facilitate unauthorized and, under the SAMs, impermissible contact between the defendant and Ms. Coronel.”

Security is so stringent that Guzman was not even allowed a brief hug with Coronel at the outset of the trial.

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Cogan said on Monday that Coronel had been seen using a cell phone in the courthouse, which is not allowed under court rules. In a private sidebar conference that afternoon, one of Guzman’s lawyers told the judge that Coronel had been using Google Translate on a cell phone last week to understand the proceedings, because the headset she normally used to listen to an interpreter was not working.

Cogan accepted what he called the “innocuous explanation,” and prosecutors did not raise any further concerns, according to a transcript of the conference.

However, prosecutors said in Tuesday’s motion that their new claims were based on a review of footage from multiple courthouse surveillance cameras. Details about what that footage showed were redacted.

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In the trial, expected to last up to four months, prosecutors are seeking to prove that Guzman sent massive shipments of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine into the United States as leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel.

Guzman’s lawyers have said they would prove their client was framed by another drug lord, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, and the government officials he had allegedly bribed.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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