What Is ‘Supermax’? ‘ADX’ Prison Known As ‘Alcatraz Of The Rockies’ Where ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán Is Likely Headed
On Tuesday, drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman was found guilty of an international drug smuggling conspiracy which included 10 counts of various drug trafficking charges, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and multiple counts of distributing tons of narcotics into the U.S.
Now Guzman is facing life behind bars without a chance for parole when he returns to court on June 25. With a record of jailbreaks, having escaped two high-security Mexican prisons before his capture and extradition to the United States, experts are saying that Guzman is the ideal candidate for the federal government’s “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado, also known as ADX for “administrative maximum.”
The facility which has also been called “Alcatraz of the Rockies” is known for being the most secure prison facility in the country.
“There’s no question in my mind that Guzmán will be going to the Supermax prison in Colorado,” Bob Hood, a former Supermax penitentiary warden told NBC News.
ADX is located in a mile-high desert south of Colorado Springs, Florence and is home to the most violent offenders. Of the 400 male prisoners held at the facility for 23 hours a day in 7-by-12-foot cells with fixed furnishings made of reinforced concrete, they include gang members, convicted terrorists, and other criminals, who were found to be too dangerous for less restrictive custody.
Some notable prisoners who call the facility home include Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols, and the 1993 World Trade Center attacker, Ramzi Yousef.
If Guzman ends up being sent to ADX, Hood believes that he will most likely be put under special administrative measures, which include limiting his visitation rights and his interaction with other prisoners. “He’s such a high-profile person that, in my opinion, he’ll never be allowed on the yard with other prisoners for the rest of his life,” he said.
Hood even says that Guzman may even be a candidate for the facility’s most isolated area, Range 13.
“Range 13 is a place that has four identical cells and to my knowledge, it’s only been used for two inmates: Ramzi Yousef and Thomas Silverstein,” he said.
Given Guzman’s two successful prison escapes, which include his 2001 breakout in which he was smuggled out of a top-security Mexican prison in a laundry basket and his 2015 escape from maximum-security prison Altiplano in central Mexico, where he slipped into a 1,600-yard tunnel that had been dug under his shower cell and hopped on the back of a waiting motorcycle leading him to freedom. Hood believes that he will be placed in Range 13 and rotated among its four cells to prevent any future jailbreak attempts.
While speaking with NBC News on Tuesday, Jodi Avergun, a former U.S attorney for the Eastern District of New York who ran the department’s narcotics division, she said that she is confident that Guzman will receive a life sentence and will get sent to Florence.
“I don’t think there’s any way a judge can ignore the prior evidence of his escapes and violent history,” Avergun said. “The judge won’t vary from that, even though the guidelines aren’t mandatory.”
According to Avergun, prosecutors are now weighing whether other prisoners could gain Guzman’s favor and if that would endanger incarcerated prisoners who testified against him. She also said that their true concern lies with how other inmates might help the “legendary” drug lord.
“Another reason El Chapo has to be separated and segregated is that there are a lot of cooperating witnesses in this case that need to protected,” Avergun said.