Mexico’s dangerous drug lord Joaquin Guzman, better known as “EL Chapo,” who once headed the infamous Sinaloa cartel, is struggling with mental problems that might prevent him from fighting the trafficking charges, his lawyer and wife have said. Speaking to reporters after a pretrial hearing at Brooklyn federal court, attorney Eduardo Balarezo said that his client showed strong signs of poor mental health like impaired memory and understanding. “He’s not the man he was when I first met him,” the lawyer said.
Guzman’s wife Emma Coronel feared that her husband is in a bad psychological shape, particularly at a time when his trial is set to begin. “He feels bad from what lawyers are telling me. It worries me how is he going to start the trial if he’s not in good health,” Coronel said, adding that she hasn’t been permitted to speak to her husband since 2017 when he was handed over to U.S. authorities.
Guzman has complained several times about the condition at a high-security Manhattan jail where he is currently being held in solitary confinement. According to Guzman, the light in his cell is never switched off. Besides, the unregulated temperature and poor circulation of the cell has caused him sleep-related problems, frequent headaches, and daily vomits. Owing to his reputation as an escape artist who used his connections on previous occasions to escape from the prison, authorities are not taking any chances this time.
The 61-year-old drug lord has pleaded not guilty to the charges slapped on him. However, he faces life imprisonment if found guilty in trial, which is expected to start in September 2018. The Sinaloa cartel dominates the narcotic trafficking activities along the Southwestern border involving the transportation of huge quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine, Mexican black tar heroin, and marijuana to various cities across the U.S. Apart from the Sinaloa cartel, the Juarez cartel, the Gulf cartel, and the Los Zetas cartel are some of the most dreaded organizations that pose an unceasing threat of deadly drugs crossing over the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mental health is as important as physical health
A sound mental health is important to carry out daily activities. Daily battles with deteriorating mental health can push the weary individual to end his or her own life in desperation. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) reports that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming about 44,193 victims nationwide each year. Moreover, attempting to cope with feelings and crises that seem beyond one’s control, many people start taking drugs to self-medicate their agonies. Therefore, experts recommend an early screening for symptoms of poor mental health rather than waiting for a probable psychiatric disorder to take over.
Experts say mental ailments can aggravate criminal behaviors in individuals. Society generally assumes some serious mental health issue may have pushed the person to commit a heinous crime. However, such assumptions, in turn, have increased the stigma and shame associated with mental health, preventing the afflicted from seeking help. Therefore, the need of the hour is to ensure early diagnosis and mental health screening facilities for all inmates with a heinous criminal background, as they are the ones who face higher odds of succumbing to both failing mental health and substance use disorder.
Sovereign Health’s Court Services functions as a legal support system for its patients. Though we do not provide legal counsel or representation, our representatives accompany patients to court and serve as a mediator between the judge and the district attorney to ensure that the patients receive treatment, not incarceration, for a behavioral health issue. If you or a loved one requires counseling or legal representation, Sovereign Health can help. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-439-7698 to speak with our expert and get a representation.