'El Chapo' reading self-help book in prison

He is reading a Christian-oriented self-help book in prison after being denied the small television he used to have before escaping last July.

(Photo: AP/file)
English 18/03/2016 17:49 AP Actualizada 17:49

Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán is reading a Christian-oriented self-help book in prison after being denied the small television he used to have before escaping last July, an official said Friday.

Since he was recaptured in January, Guzmán has read the classic "Don Quijote," and has now started a Spanish-language version of "The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?" by Rick Warren, a California-based evangelical pastor.

His food is tested by a dog that is given small portions of Guzmán's meals; guards then wait 15 minutes before giving the meal to the man long considered the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.

A federal official who was not authorized to be quoted by name under official policy described to The Associated Press Guzmán's life under special security measures drawn up after his escape through a tunnel. The official and a colleague granted the exclusive interview following a spate of complaints by Guzmán's lawyers and relatives, saying his health was suffering in prison and that he couldn't sleep.

The officials said Guzmán has gained a small amount of weight and lowered his blood pressure since he was taken back to the Altiplano prison west of Mexico City.

The officials said Guzmán sleeps regularly, although he is constantly monitored by two guards standing outside his cell, watching him 24 hours a day.

He is also under constant observation from a ceiling-mounted camera which - unlike the one in the cell from which he escaped - has no blind spots.

Guzmán's associates tunneled him out of prison through the thin concrete floor of his shower stall last July, in a spot which surveillance cameras were not designed to reach.

The floors of the prison's top-security cells have since been reinforced with a 16-inch (40-centimeter) bed of concrete with a double layer of rebar.

That is not the only thing that has changed. Before he escaped, Guzmán was allowed a four-hour conjugal visit every nine days. In addition, the officials said, he was supplied with Viagra. But Guzmán hasn't been given Viagra since he was recaptured and returned to the prison on Jan. 8. Nor has he received any conjugal visits. He only applied for permission to renew them this week.

The officials said the tunnel through which Guzmán escaped has since been sealed by collapsing parts of it, and blocking other parts with steel and concrete.

Guzman is not allowed to mingle with guards or other inmates, officials said, because his style of escape and intimidation relies on such contacts.

The officials said that in his last escape from another prison in 2001, Guzmán gained the confidence of one guard by giving him 20 pesos (at the time about US$2) to buy a soda.