Even a prison escape artist like drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has no chance of breaking out of the special hellhole where he's expected to be caged once he's transferred to the custody of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Guzman was convicted Tuesday in Brooklyn, N.Y., of running a massive drug smuggling operation as head of Mexico’s notorious and murderous Sinaloa Cartel. As a result, he is more than likely destined for ADX Florence — dubbed the "Alcatraz of the Rockies" — when he is sentenced in June, given his background of prison break-outs.
Supermax, in Florence, Colo., is the lockup where BOP keeps serial killers, terrorists, mobsters and drug kingpins too dangerous to house anywhere else, Atavist magazine reported.
El Chapo became a folk legend in Mexico for two prison escapes. He broke out of one in a laundry bin in 2001. He broke out of another in 2014 when he escaped through a mile-long lighted tunnel, making his way through the subterranean route on a motorcycle on rails.
“Given his history of escapes, it’s likely that’s where he will go,” said Martin Horn, a professor of corrections at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in an interview Tuesday with Fox News. “But it’s not a foregone conclusion.”
Still, Horn said: “If I were a betting man, I’d bet on ADX.”
At his sentencing, Guzman, 61, faces a prison sentence of life behind bars. He was found guilty on all ten counts by a jury that deliberated six days.
At Supermax he would join a motley crew of characters that includes Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York; Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber; the airline “shoe bomber” Richard Reid; and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.
Other lifers at America’s toughest prison include so-called 9/11 20th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui, Adis Medunjanin, the wannabe New York City subway bombers, Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols and former New York City Mafia crime boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano.
El Chapo would also be joining other Mexican cartel leaders who are listed as being at Supermax: Hector “El Guero” Palma Salazar, one of the Sinaloa cartel’s founders; Francisco Javier Arellano Félix of the Tijuana cartel; and Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, founder of the Gulf cartel.
Supermax opened in 1994 and as of Tuesday was holding 402 inmates, all men.
Inmates are confined to tiny single-person cells for all but one hour a day. They have virtually no contact with the outside world.
Supermax inmate Mahmud Abouhalima, a participant in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, described life in his cell on Cell Block H in a declaration submitted as part of a civil rights lawsuit, Boston.com reported in 2015.
“Sitting in a small box in a walking distance of eight feet, this little hole becomes my world, my dining room, reading and writing area, sleeping, walking, urinating, and defecating,” Abouhalima said “I am virtually living in a bathroom, and this concept has never left my mind in ten years.’’
It’s mostly terrorists who end up on Cell Block H, the New York Daily News reported in 2011.
"It's the most secure, most controlled, most confined unit in the prison," former BOP warden Joe Gunja told the paper. "It's designed for the worst of the worst inmates."
In 2017 Reuters reported interviewing a former federal prisoner who spent six years at Supermax from 2008 to 2014 for his involvement in prison riots at two federal lock-ups.
The ex-inmate, who asked for anonymity, said the stark conditions border on the “inhumane.”
“Those guys at Guantanamo had it much better than we did,” he said.