Mexican druglord unhappy with move from Chicago

December 13, 2011 (CHICAGO)

In this Intelligence Report: The Sinaloa cartel boss is unhappy with his accommodations.

Attorneys representing the accused cartel leader Vicente Zambada-Niebla worked for months to get him moved out of the harsh solitary conditions at Chicago's Metro Correctional Center.

Now that he is somewhere new, Zambada-Niebla is complaining about that as he awaits trial in Chicago on charges that he oversaw the Sinaloa drug cartel.

During his two years at the Chicago MCC, Zambada-Niebla wasn't once allowed to the rooftop sports courts to exercise. Prison authorities said there was too much risk that the cartel boss would be picked off by a sniper or would stage a helicopter escape.

So, Judge Ruben Castillo ordered that the accused druglord be moved to another facility. More than a month ago Zambada-Niebla was relocated to the Federal Correctional Center in Milan, Michigan.

But, according to a letter to Judge Castillo from the prisoner's lawyer, Zambada-Niebla is worse off than he was in Chicago, describing a cell where he has to straddle the toilet just to accomplish push-ups.

According to the letter on file Tuesday in federal court, attorney George Santangelo writes that the inmate is allowed outdoor exercise but without cold weather clothing; Zambada-Niebla's cell is only four by six feet in size; he does not receive mail from his attorney or family and his mail is not going out. Calls are limited and he lives in total isolation, according to the lawyer, who says his client's haircut was even delayed by three weeks, all the result of Zambada-Niebla being punished for complaining about his conditions at the MCC in Chicago.

The suspect, who hasn't been convicted of anything and is awaiting trial, is facing treatment far worse than anything he suffered in Chicago, according to his attorney.

Zambada-Niebla's lawyer wants Judge Castillo in Chicago to revisit the conditions under which the prisoner is being held, contending that it is punishment and unconstitutional.

Regardless of how that request is answered, the drug suspect will have to wait even longer for his trial to begin. It was supposed to start on February 13, but late Tuesday that schedule was changed.

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