El Chapo starts life sentence

22 July 2019 | International

Fallen Mexican drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman was locked up Friday at the ADX federal maximum security prison in the US state of Colorado, where he will spend the rest of his days.

“We can confirm that... Guzman is in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons” at the Administrative Maximum (ADX) site in Florence, central Kansas, read a short email from the prisons bureau.

Guzman, the 62-year-old former co-leader of Mexico's feared Sinaloa drug cartel, was convicted in February of smuggling hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States.

In a New York courtroom on Wednesday he was sentenced to life in prison, and sent to the notorious supermax prison nicknamed the 'Alcatraz of the Rockies'.

Guzman - who escaped Mexican prisons in 2001 and 2015 - will find it nearly impossible to slip out of the ADX, built in 1994 and located in a remote mountainous desert region of the western US state.

Current ADX inmates include convicted 'Unabomber' Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols, the British 'shoe bomber' Richard Reid and the Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is awaiting execution.

The most dangerous prisoners are allowed out of their small steel and concrete cell for only 90 minutes a day - and they must wear shackles on their hands and feet.

Guzman was extradited to the United States in January 2017, and was being held in solitary confinement at New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in a windowless cell that was constantly lit.

Compared to that, “ADX will be like a walk in the park for him”, Guzman's attorney Jeffrey Lichtman told reporters on Wednesday.

Guzman described his 30 months at the MCC prison to US Federal Judge Brian Cogan as around the clock “emotional, psychological and mental” torture.

Cogan granted a request by Lichtman to let the former Mexican drug lord stay at the MCC for up to 60 days while his case was appealed.

Federal prison officials opted instead to immediately move him to the Colorado prison.

Guzman's “ability to defend himself has never been a concern for the government”, Lichtman said in an email to AFP.

Guzman - whose moniker 'El Chapo' translates as 'Shorty' - is considered the most influential drug lord since Colombia's Pablo Escobar, who was killed in a police shootout in 1993.

NAMPA/AFP

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