The pressure is on for Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's defense. Federal officials now reportedly fear that a "well-placed" mole on El Chapo's legal team could potentially compromise "thousands" of federal drug investigations, TMZ reported Wednesday. Those on El Chapo's team will be given knowledge of sensitive Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) documents detailing his international drug trade activities, leading officials to worry that such info could be utilized to warn other drug lords of the agency's next moves.
An order obtained by TMZ Wednesday reportedly shows that prosecutors went to court and asked the federal judge in Brooklyn overseeing El Chapo's drug trafficking case to let them appoint a special screening lawyer. The judge will reportedly allow the appointment of what's known as a "firewall attorney," i.e. someone in the U.S. Attorney's Office who's not presently involved in the case.
The appointed attorney would screen each "potential foreign lawyer" on El Chapo's team in an effort to weed out possible moles. If mole-ish behavior is detected, the attorney can go to the judge with a recommendation to have someone blocked from joining El Chapo's defense.
Last week, El Chapo's lawyers filed documents asking that he be relocated from solitary confinement due to "extremely restrictive" living conditions. Lawyers said El Chapo is not allowed to contact his wife and complained about the "small, windowless cell" in which he's housed in solitude for 23 hours a day, NBC News reported. "The light is always on," court documents stated. "With erratic air conditioning, he has often lacked enough warm clothing to avoid shivering."