'El Chapo' Will Be Tried in US in April 2018 | NBC Southern California
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'El Chapo' Will Be Tried in US in April 2018

The 59-year-old defendant famous for twice escaping from prison in Mexico lost his bid Thursday to relax the terms of his confinement at a lower Manhattan lockup

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    A notorious drug lord who was Mexico's most wanted man before he was nabbed after six months on the run following a dramatic prison break appeared in person in federal court in Brooklyn Friday for a pre-trial hearing as his lawyers complained about his jail conditions and exercise regimen. Katherine Creag reports. (Published Friday, Feb. 3, 2017)

    A U.S. judge on Friday set an April 2018 trial date for Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on charges he oversaw a multibillion-dollar international drug trafficking operation responsible for murders and kidnappings.

    Guzman answered the judge's questions through an interpreter. He spent half the hearing looking across the courtroom at his wife, who smiled and waved to him as she entered.

    Defense lawyers complained that glass separated them from the defendant during their meetings, hindering communications. The judge said the matter will be investigated.

    The 59-year-old defendant famous for twice escaping from prison in Mexico lost his bid Thursday to relax the terms of his confinement at a lower Manhattan lockup when U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan concluded that solitary confinement was appropriate.

    Drug Kingpin 'El Chapo' Guzman Arrives at NYC Jail

    [NATL-NY] Mexican Drug Kingpin 'El Chapo' Guzman Arrives at NYC Jail
    Drug kingpin "El Chapo" Guzman arrived at Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan after his extradition to the U.S. Thursday.
    (Published Friday, Jan. 20, 2017)

    Cogan said the U.S. government had good justifications for applying tough jail conditions on a man who escaped twice, including once through a milelong tunnel stretching from the shower in his cell. But Cogan relaxed the restrictions known as Special Administrative Measures enough for Guzman to communicate with his wife through written questions and answers.

    His lawyers said in a statement that it was "devastating" for Guzman and his wife that they will not be allowed jail visits.

    Guzman was brought to the U.S. in January to face charges that he oversaw a multibillion-dollar international drug trafficking operation. He has pleaded not guilty.

    He has remained in a 20-by-12-foot (6-by-3.7-meter) cell for 23 hours a day in a wing of the Metropolitan Correctional Center that often is used to house high-risk inmates including terrorists.

    The U.S. government has said severe restrictions are necessary for Guzman in part because he used coded messages, bribes and other means to continue operating his drug empire from behind bars and arrange escapes.