NEW YORK – On the planet of corrections, there are inmates who pose safety dangers, after which there’s “El Chapo.”
Drug lord Joaquin Guzman has an unparalleled document of jailbreaks, having escaped two high-security Mexican prisons earlier than his final seize and extradition to america.
So with Guzman convicted Tuesday of drug trafficking and looking at an anticipated life sentence, the place will the U.S. imprison a larger-than-life kingpin with a Houdini-like tendency to slide away?
Consultants say Guzman appears the best candidate for the federal authorities’s “Supermax” jail in Florence, Colorado, also called ADX for “administrative most,” a facility so safe, so distant and so austere that it has been known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.”
“El Chapo suits the invoice completely,” mentioned Cameron Lindsay, a retired warden who ran three federal lockups, together with the Metropolitan Detention Middle in Brooklyn. “I might be completely shocked if he is not despatched to the ADX.”
Situated exterior an outdated mining city about two hours south of Denver, Supermax’s hardened buildings home the nation’s most violent offenders, with a lot of its 400 inmates held alone for 23 hours a day in 7-by-12-foot (2.1-by-3.7 meter) cells with mounted furnishings fabricated from strengthened concrete.
Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Oklahoma Metropolis bombing confederate Terry Nichols are amongst those that name it residence.
However Guzman, set to be sentenced in June for smuggling monumental quantities of narcotics into the united statesand having a hand in dozens of murders, would stand out even from Supermax’s notorious roster due to his nearly legendary status for breaking out.
That features a sensational 2015 escape from the maximum-security Altiplano jail in central Mexico, the place he communicated with accomplices for weeks through cellphone, slipped into an escape hatch beneath his bathe, hopped on the again of a ready bike and sped via a mile-long, hand-dug tunnel to freedom.
Bribery is extensively believed to have enabled that jailbreak, in addition to a 2001 escape during which Guzman was smuggled out of one other top-security Mexican jail in a laundry basket.
“There needed to be collusion from inside,” mentioned Mike Vigil, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who labored undercover in Mexico. “There isn’t any doubt corruption performed a job in each of his spectacular escapes.”
Might that occur at Supermax? Unlikely.
Prisoners at Supermax spend years in solitary confinement and infrequently go days “with just a few phrases spoken to them,” an Amnesty Worldwide report discovered. One former prisoner, in an interview with The Boston Globe, described the lockup as a “high-tech model of hell, designed to close down all sensory notion.”
Most inmates at Supermax are given a tv, however their solely precise view of the surface world is a 4-inch window whose design prevents them from even figuring out the place they’re housed within the facility. Human interplay is minimal. Prisoners eat all meals within the solitude of their very own cells, inside toes of their bathrooms.
The ability itself is guarded by razor-wire fences, gun towers, closely armed patrols and assault canines.
“If ever there have been an escape-proof jail, it is the ability at Florence,” mentioned Burl Cain, the previous longtime warden of the maximum-security Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. “It is the jail of all prisons.”
Whereas federal authorities haven’t mentioned for sure the place El Chapo can be housed, he is looking at “a sentence from which there isn’t a escape and no return,” U.S. Legal professional Richard Donoghue mentioned after Tuesday’s verdict.
Guzman’s confinement main as much as his three-month trial included exceptional safety measures reflecting his immense flight threat. He has been housed in solitary confinement in a high-security wing of the Metropolitan Correctional Middle, a Manhattan lockup generally known as “Little Gitmo” that has held infamous terrorists and mobsters.
Authorities have routinely shut down the Brooklyn Bridge to shuttle “El Chapo” to federal courtroom in a police motorcade that features a SWAT crew and ambulance tracked by helicopters. Closely armed federal officers and bomb-sniffing canines have patrolled exterior the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Officers had been so involved about safety, in truth, that Guzman was forbidden from hugging his spouse at his trial.
That apparently will not be an issue if he winds up in Supermax, the place all visits are non-contact, and prisoners are separated from their guests by a thick plexiglass display screen.
“Apart from when being positioned in restraints and escorted by guards, prisoners might spend years with out touching one other human being,” the Amnesty Worldwide report discovered.