Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is too hot to touch, a New York federal judge ruled on Thursday.
The ruling denied a request filed on Wednesday by attorneys for the world’s most notorious alleged drug lord for permission from the court to hug his wife.
Defense attorneys asked that Guzman be allowed to give his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, “a brief, momentary greeting to include perhaps an embrace” in court.
After three days of jury selection, a jury was seated on Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court, and trial is scheduled to begin next week.
His attorneys cast it as a “humanitarian gesture” for the alleged drug trafficker and murderer who was permitted no contact with his wife during nearly two years in solitary confinement.
In his ruling, Brooklyn federal judge Brian M. Cogan said he was sympathetic to the request but that it violates the special measures the U.S. Marshals Service has put in place for the reputed drug kingpin.
“The Court is sympathetic to the request,” Cogan wrote, adding that the “defendant’s conduct….has been exemplary, and he has displayed considerable grace under pressure. Nevertheless…the court is constrained to deny it.”
Cogan said in the ruling that granting the request would violate the security protocols of the U.S. Marshals Service, which is charged with both protection Guzman and preventing him from trying to escape or harm others as his criminal trial is set to begin next week.
Cogan went on to say that the security provisions placed on Guzman “are tailored to the Government’s legitimate objectives of preventing defendant from coordinating any escape from prison or directing any attack on individuals who might be cooperating with the Government.”
The judge said that the security concerns are “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 witnesses might be particularly strong.”
Prosecutors in the widely-anticipated trial linked El Chapo to nearly three dozen murders and most of the cocaine and heroin used in the United States.
Guzman has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Guzman was extradited to the U.S. in 2017, after two notorious Mexican jail breaks, and authorities in New York are taking no chances of a repeat performance on American soil.
Guzman is being housed in a high-security wing of a federal jail in Manhattan, but is being tried in Brooklyn.
That has led authorities to shut down the Brooklyn Bridge in order to transfer the alleged drug kingpin across the East River in a law enforcement caravan that has included a SWAT team, an ambulance, and helicopters circling overhead, according to the Associated Press.
It remains unclear, however, whether that transport pattern will continue through what is expected to be a months-long criminal trial. Security at the Brooklyn federal courthouse has been equally exacting, with bomb-sniffing dogs and metal detectors set up at courtroom entrance to complement the metal detectors at the courthouse entrance.
The names of witnesses against Guzman have been blacked out from court documents, and the jury will remain anonymous.