Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has escaped prison a number of times in Mexico. The first prison break happened in 2001 as the infamous drug lord escaped from the maximum security prison Puente Grande. In 2015, El Chapo escaped from the Altiplano Federal Penitentiary. El Chapo can rest assured knowing that he won’t break out of his new prison, an inescapable supermax facility known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” that is commonly compared to “hell.”
On Tuesday, Joaquin Guzman was found guilty on all 10 counts in his drug trafficking trial that began in November. The charges against the Sinaloa Cartel boss included smuggling more than 155 tons of cocaine over 25 years into the U.S., continuing criminal enterprise, and use of firearms.
Given his notoriety and history of using influence to escape from prison, many believe El Chapo will be sent to ADX Florence, the “prison of all prisons.” ADX Florence is a supermax penitentiary that is advertised as the most secure prison facility in the country, if not the entire planet. The 37-acre supermax prison is located in the mile-high desert, outside an old mining town about two hours south of Denver. The facility is in a remote area with nothing near it, making it easy for any escapees to be found.
The facility is known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” for using the natural environment as a determent of attempted escapes. The border walls of the prison are complete with razor-wire fences and gun towers. There are regular patrols by armed guards and attack dogs.
Inside, El Chapo’s new home will be a 7-foot-by-12-foot reinforced concrete cell with a 4-inch window. Guzman will most likely be sentenced to Range 13, the most isolated area of the prison. There are only four cells in Range 13 and holds the prison’s most infamous inmates, but the prisoners are rotated between the four cells to prevent any progress of a jailbreak.
Generally, prisoners get one hour a day outside in a small caged-in area. Given his infamy, Guzman will have little or no interaction with fellow inmates. Prisoners spend years in solitary confinement and can go days without anyone speaking to them. Most prisoners at ADX Florence can read newspapers and watch television, but only old publications that don’t give inmates a glimpse into the outside world.
Raymond Luc Levasseur, who spent nearly five years at ADX Florence after conducting a series of Marxist-inspired bombings, called the prison a “high-tech version of hell, designed to shut down all sensory perception.” Levasseur added, “Nobody can go through that experience without being scarred,” he said in a telephone interview from his home in Maine. “It deadens you emotionally. You have to withdraw like a turtle into a shell.”
“The ADX is a far more stark environment than any other prison I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been to all of the federal prisons,” said Robert Hood, who served as warden of the ADX between 2002 and 2005. “When I call it a clean version of hell, I mean that it’s squeaky clean and quiet, because everyone there is locked down. It’s a very abnormal environment.”
ADX Florence houses the nation’s most violent and notorious criminals. Florence houses about 400 prisoners, including infamous villains such as Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 1993 World Trade Center terrorist Ramzi Yousef, terrorist Ted Kaczynski, September 11th conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, and Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols.
The prison that El Chapo will be sent to will not be identified until the drug kingpin arrives there because they don’t want to tip off any potential enemies or allies. Guzman will be sentenced on June 25, where he faces mandatory life with no parole. Until then, Guzman will continue to stay at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has introduced the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act, which would take Guzman’s assets and use them to pay for President Donald Trump’s southern border wall.
Two years ago, El Chapo said that the MCC in New York City was “too restrictive.” Boy, oh boy, is he not going to like ADX Florence.