Friday morning, Joaquin Guzman Loera was taken from his solitary confinement cell in lower Manhattan and escorted by a police motorcade across the Brooklyn Bridge to the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, where heavy security signaled the impending arrival of someone important.
Well before Guzman’s hearing began, reporters had already filled the courtroom’s press box and much of the overflow room across the hall, where a live feed of the proceedings played on two TVs and a large projector screen.
The main attraction was the sight of Guzman himself, the infamous Mexican drug lord known by his nickname, El Chapo (or Shorty), who eluded both Mexican and U.S. authorities for decades and, after being captured, escaped twice from maximum-security prisons in Mexico. But for Guzman, under tight detention measures that forbid him from receiving visitors other than his attorneys, Friday’s hearing was his first chance to chance to see his wife, Emma Coronel, in person, since his last court appearance in February.
For the majority of the hearing, Guzman faced away from the judge, leaning back in his chair as he scanned the crowd, his eyes darting between Coronel and Rosa Isela Guzman, the oldest of Guzman’s 18 children. Guzman listened through headphones as the interpreter sitting behind him translated the conversation among Judge Brian Cogan, the prosecutors and defense attorneys.
On Thursday, Cogan had denied a request by Guzman’s attorneys to allow Coronel, a former beauty pageant winner, to visit her husband in person or even talk to him over the phone. Instead he allowed the two to communicate via written messages subject to approval by law enforcement officials.
The family reunion was bittersweet and brief, as Cogan concluded Friday’s hearing by setting an aspirational trial date of April 16, 2018 — acknowledging the likelihood that it would be delayed even further.
Outside the courthouse reporters waiting in the rain to hear from Guzman’s attorneys were…