BFF-62 El Chapo wife off hook — for now — over banned phone

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ZCZC

BFF-62

US-MEXICO-CRIME-DRUGS

El Chapo wife off hook — for now — over banned phone

NEW YORK, Nov 27, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The US trial of Mexican drug baron
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman hit a roadblock Tuesday over allegations that his
beauty queen wife had access to a banned cell phone and was using it to
communicate with her husband.

Prosecutors demanded that the judge punish the defense for lending Emma
Coronel a telephone, but he accepted explanations that she had used it for
translation purposes only and deferred until next week any decision on
sanctions.

In 15-page and heavily redacted document issued overnight Monday, the US
government accused the 29-year-old of using a cell phone to communicate via
one of the defense lawyers with her husband, from whom she is banned from any
direct contact.

Guzman is subjected to the strictest inmate security protocols in the
United States, after twice escaping from prison in Mexico and has been held
in solitary confinement since being extradited to New York in January 2017.

Judge Brian Cogan, who is presiding over the trial, has taken the security
precautions so seriously that he prohibited the couple from embracing before
opening statements began on November 13.

Prosecutors complained that Coronel had access to a phone last week, but on
Tuesday the judge ruled that, as she no longer did, the issue of sanctions
would be addressed “sometime next week.”

Lawyers are the only people permitted to take cell phones into the Brooklyn
federal court house where 61-year-old Guzman is on trial. Coronel was said to
be using the phone while sitting next to a lawyer in the cafeteria.

On Monday, lawyers twice objected to the judge and the defense that Coronel
— the mother of Guzman’s seven-year-old twin daughters — had been using a
cell phone inside the court house.

Prosecutors fear that not only could she be using the device to communicate
with her husband, but to film a protected witness whose security they have
sought to shield at all costs.

Guzman is accused of smuggling drugs into the United States over a quarter
of a century, and is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars in a
maximum security US jail if convicted.

BSS/AFP/MRI/2332 hrs