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By Dareh Gregorian
“El Chapo” won’t get his hug.
A federal court judge in New York has denied Joaquin Guzman’s request to hug his former beauty queen wife before opening arguments in his drug trafficking trial next week.
Guzman, whose nickname translates to “Shorty,” faces life in prison if convicted.
In a letter to the judge presiding over the case earlier this week, one of his lawyers asked “that Mr. Guzman be allowed to give his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, a brief momentary greeting to include perhaps an embrace” before the proceedings begin.
In his ruling Thursday, Brooklyn federal court judge Brian Cogan said he was “sympathetic to the request.”
“As defense counsel points out, defendant’s conduct during what are surely difficult proceedings and conditions of confinement for him has been exemplary, and he has displayed considerable grace under pressure,” the judge wrote — but he added he had no choice but to deny it.
Cogan noted that he’d previously upheld the government’s “restriction that prohibits defendant from communicating with or having any physical contact with his wife” in order to prevent the notorious drug lord “from coordinating any escape from prison or directing any attack on individuals who might be cooperating with the Government.”
He added “the same concerns that warranted their implementation in the first place still exist today. If anything, this is especially true on the eve of trial, when the reality of the potential liability defendant faces if convicted may be setting in and his motivation to escape or threaten witness might be particularly strong.”
Prosecutors say Guzman, who twice escaped from high security prisons in Mexico, was running “the largest drug trafficking organization world,” and used murder, kidnapping and torture to maintain his hold on his Sinaloa Cartel.
He was extradited to the United States last year, and has been held in solitary confinement ever since. Guzman lawyer Mariel Colon Miro had told the judge that allowing Guzman a hug would be a “humanitarian gesture.”
Guzman, 61, married Coronel Aispuro in 2007, when she was 18. She’d been crowned Coffee and Guava Queen in Sinaloa earlier that year.