Lawyer for Mexican drug lord demands Univision and Netflix pay for right to use his name

Drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter by soldiers in Mexico City before heading back to prafter being recaptured in January.

Drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is escorted to a helicopter by soldiers in Mexico City before heading back to prafter being recaptured in January.

(Associated Press)

A lawyer for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman said Wednesday that he would sue television networks if they air a new series on the imprisoned Mexican drug lord’s life without paying him.

Netflix and Univision announced on May 17 that they would co-produce the drama series “El Chapo,” set to air in 2017. The announcement used only the nickname “El Chapo,” and said the series is “based on the life story of one of the world’s most notorious criminals.”

Lawyer Andres Granados told the Associated Press that the two partners have to pay for the right to use Guzman’s name and nickname, which can be translated as “Shorty.”

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Granados said that at the right price, Guzman “could supply more information to make it a better project for them.”

“If they air this, they are immediately going to be sued,” Granados said. “They, by necessity, need the authorization of Mr. Guzman, because he is not dead.”

“With great pleasure, we have the greatest willingness to negotiate with them,” he added.

Guzman earlier gave rights to his life story to Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, and Granados said she could also negotiate with the networks.

A spokesman for Univision’s Fusion unit said the company had no comment on the issue. Netflix did not respond to requests for comment.

Granados was at the headquarters of Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission to present a complaint against the Mexican government, saying it was trying to interfere with Guzman’s defense by denying it copies of a Friday ruling that his extradition to the United States can proceed.

Guzman’s lawyers need a copy of the document to file an appeal, but officials have said they sent the document directly to the drug lord in prison, where lawyers have limited access to him.

Granados said it was an intentional delaying tactic on the part of the government.

Earlier this month, Guzman was transferred from Mexico’s top-security Altiplano prison west of Mexico City to a lower security prison in Ciudad Juarez, on the border with Texas. Guzman had escaped the Altilpano prison in 2015 and was returned there after he was recaptured in January.

The attorney said that he met with Guzman after the transfer and that his client would have preferred to stay at the Altiplano prison.

Describing conditions in Ciudad Juarez, Granados said Guzman had told of being kept in an area that is “isolated, segregated” from other inmates.

“He told me his cell is very dirty. He is a little down, he is a little sad, but he is at peace. He knows there are things we can do to keep him from being sent away,” Granados said, referring to the extradition effort.

While another of Guzman’s main lawyers had suggested the accused drug lord wanted to negotiate with U.S. officials in return for waiving his appeals and accepting extradition, Granados said there are no current negotiations.

“He would have to be in the United States first” for any deal to be negotiated, Granados said. “The person who would have to do that negotiating is the U.S. lawyer” for Guzman, who he refused to identify.

Guzman faces charges from seven federal prosecutors in the U.S., including in Chicago, New York, Miami and San Diego.


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