US judge calls torture claims in cartel case 'very serious'

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CHICAGO (AP) - A U.S. judge has given prosecutors until Feb. 6 to respond to allegations that Mexican authorities tortured a purported bodyguard for one of drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's sons while American agents looked on.

U.S. District Chief Judge Ruben Castillo described Jesus Raul Beltran-Leon's allegations as "very serious" during a hearing Tuesday in Chicago, to where he was extradited in January to face drug trafficking charges.

The 34-year-old alleged in a recent court filing that Mexican authorities beat and electrocuted him after his 2014 arrest. He says at one point, he frantically chewed through a plastic bag pulled over his head to keep from suffocating.

Interrogators wanted him to divulge the whereabouts of two of Guzman's sons, but he insisted he didn't know.

Beltran-Leon says there were English speakers in the room while he was being tortured and that someone identified them as U.S. agents.

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