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El Chapo Gaining Weight, Reading 'The Purpose Driven Life' in Prison


Drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman no longer has a television in prison, but he gets free reading material.

MEXICO CITY (TheBlazeAP) — Drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is getting some self-help advice and gaining a bit of weight in prison under his new, tighter-security regime.

Guzman, who tunneled out of the same prison last July, now has two guards standing outside his cell watching him every minute of the day. There is a dog whose only job is to test his food before he eats it to make sure it's not poisoned. He no longer has a television, but he gets free reading material.

Drug trafficker Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman is escorted to a helicopter by Mexican security forces at Mexico's International Airport in Mexico city, Mexico, on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Mexico's apprehension of the world's most-wanted drug boss struck a blow to a cartel that local and U.S. authorities say swelled into a multinational empire, fueling killings around the world. {Image source: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Since he was recaptured in January, Guzman 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. The best-selling book contains quotes that might pertain to Guzman, like "A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life." And "We are products of our past, but we don't have to be prisoners of it."

The description of his post-escape prison life comes from a federal official who was not authorized to be quoted by name under official policy. The official and a colleague granted the exclusive interview to The Associated Press following a spate of complaints by Guzman's lawyers and relatives who said his health was suffering in prison and that he couldn't sleep.

Before he escaped, Guzman was allowed a four-hour conjugal visit every nine days. In addition, the officials said, he was supplied with Viagra.

But Guzman 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.

Perhaps the drug lord's recent spiritual and intellectual explorations and reduced sexual interest are signs of a gradual transformation.

The officials said Guzman 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.

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

Guzman'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.

During his most recent time on the run, Guzman met with Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, purportedly to discuss a project to document his life in a movie.

But Del Castillo said in interview with ABC aired Friday that Guzman may have just been infatuated with her, or the drug-trafficking character she played in a TV series, Teresa Mendoza.

"He probably had a crush on Teresa Mendoza," Del Castillo told Diane Sawyer. "I think he was never interested in the movie."

Prosecutors later said her contacts with Guzman, and the October 2015 meeting with Guzman and American actor Sean Penn in a remote area of northeastern Mexico, helped lead them to eventually recapturing the drug lord. A chain of leaked emails between Guzman and Del Castillo suggest authorities were monitoring their text conversations.

Del Castillo said she didn't know she was under surveillance.

"No, to be honest I didn't think about it," she said. "I thought he (Guzman) knew what he was doing by texting."

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