- Drug lord El Chapo is being detained in solitary confinement in New York prison
- He faces spending the rest of his life in maximum security prison if convicted
- El Chapo headed the Sinaloa cartel, responsible for thousands of deaths
- His lawyers claim his physical and mental health has suffered in prison
Notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman is fast deteriorating in the New York cell where he is detained, his laywers have complained.
The criminal - who is likely to spend the rest of his life in a maximum security prison if convicted on a raft of firearms, drug trafficking and conspiracy charges - is accused of running one of the world's biggest drug empires.
Lawyers for the 59-year-old, who escaped twice from prison in Mexico, say his 'physical and mental health' is deteriorating, and he is suffering hallucinations.
El Chapo, head of the deadly Sinaloa cartel responsible for thousands of deaths in Mexico's brutal drug wars, has been held in solitary confinement since being extradited to the US on January 19.
Mexican drug baron Joaquin Guzman aka 'El Chapo', one of the world's most notorious criminals, was extradited to the United States in January
Emma Coronel Aispuro (L), the wife of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, listens as his attorney Michelle Gelernt talks to the press outside the US Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York
In a 24-page letter to the judge overseeing the case, they wrote: 'He has difficulty breathing and suffers from a sore throat and headaches.
'He has recently been experiencing auditory hallucinations, complaining of hearing music in his cell even when his radio is turned off.'
His lawyers asked Judge Brian Cogan that El Chapo be allowed to speak to his wife, 27-year-old Emma Coronel Aispuro, either by person or by telephone, and be released from solitary confinement and placed in the general prison population.
EL CHAPO: DRUG CARTEL LEADER AND PRISON ESCAPE ARTIST
El Chapo being arrested in Mexico in January last year
El Chapo - a nickname that means 'Shorty' - is accused of having imported and distributed around 200 tonnes of cocaine from South America to the US, as well as tonnes of cannabis, heroin and other drugs.
The US Treasury Department has branded him the 'most powerful drug trafficker in the world', and Forbes magazine ranked him as one of the most powerful people in the world every year between 2009 and 2011.
According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, El Chapo has as much influence and reach as Pablo Escobar, the notorious Colombian drug lord.
His net worth is estimated to be around $1billion, and in 2011 he was named as the 10th richest man in Mexico.
The drug lord has twice escaped from prison in Mexico before being recaptured last year
In 2015 he escaped through a one mile tunnel that opened into his cell's shower at the Altiplano prison near Mexico City
El Chapo was first captured in Guatemala in 1993, only to escape from a maximum-security prison in 2001.
Mexican marines backed by the US Drug Enforcement Administration arrested him in 2014 in the Sinaloa resort of Mazatlan, where he was staying with his wife and twin daughters.
But he escaped again just 17 months later.
His henchmen dug a one-mile tunnel that opened into his cell's shower at the Altiplano prison near Mexico City, allowing him to slip out and flee on a remodeled motorbike that was fitted on tracks.
Guzman was recaptured in January 2016.
Authorities said they tracked him down after Guzman held a clandestine meeting with US actor Sean Penn and Mexican-American actress Kate del Castillo, with whom he exchanged flirtatious text messages.
Amnesty International has previously condemned conditions at the unit where he is being housed as 'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and incompatible with the presumption of innocence,' the letter said.
It is not the first time his legal team has complained about the draconian conditions of his incarceration.
They did so at a court hearing in Brooklyn on February 3, when Cogan declined to intervene at the time, saying it was up to the jail.
US authorities are adamant that El Chapo will have no chance of freedom.
Mexican drug lord extradited to the US ©Adrian Leung/John Saeki (AFP)
The letter said Guzman was confined to 'a small windowless cell' where he remains alone, except for an hour of solitary exercise in another cell with a treadmill and stationary bicycle Monday to Friday.
His meals are passed through a slot in the door and the light is always on, it said.
Guzman shivers from a lack of warm clothing and never goes outside, the lawyers added.
After the cartel chief was extradited, US Attorney Robert Capers told a news conference: 'He's a man known for no other life than a life of crime, violence, death and destruction and now he'll have to answer to that.'
Prosecutors are seeking to obtain a $14billion criminal forfeiture order against him.
In January a video emerged showing a group of inmates at a California correctional facility pledging to help El Chapo escape.
One inmate told the leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel: 'Everything is ready for you. What you say is the law. Here you have more than 3,500 soldiers.'
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