'A clean version of hell': How bad is the prison where 'El Chapo' is likely to end up?

'A clean version of hell': How bad is the prison where 'El Chapo' is likely to end up?
By Emma BeswickJoël Chatreau
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Dubbed the "Alcatraz of the Rockies", the prison has concrete slabs for beds and houses some of the most violent criminals convicted in the US.


Often called the "Alcatraz of the Rockies" or "SuperMax" by Americans, a high-security Colorado prison is where Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is likely to spend the rest of his days.

The prison's conditions were so harsh that the US press cited a former guard as saying it was "a cleaner version of hell".

While it has not been formalised by the justice system, Guzman, better known as "El Chapo", will probably serve a life sentence in the Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Reuters reported.

An aerial view of the US' toughest detention centre

Days spent in an 8m2 concrete cell

Florence in Colorado, the US is far from the beautiful capital of Italy's Tuscany region, with the ADX prison located in a vast desert at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.

It is surrounded by watchtowers and guarded by heavily armed staff.

El Chapo will spend 22-24 hours per day in an 8m2 cell made of concrete and steel.

Gone are the days of luxury for the notorious drug trafficker. The furniture in each cell consists of a bunk, desk and stool, all made of concrete. Prisoners also have a sink, shower and toilet.

The cells are almost completely void of daylight, with an "arrow slit" dug into the wall, measuring just 10cm wide.

A hermetically-sealed (airtight) steel door allows for no contact with neighbouring detainees.

Infamous neighbours

Current detainees in the prison include: Ramzi Yousef, one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen convicted for his part in the September 11 attacks; and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is convicted of planting pressure cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon in 2013.

No escapes likely

"El Chapo" was known for his ability to evade the Mexican authorities and famed for prison breaks.

Mugshots of Guzman through the years

He escaped from a Mexican prison in July 2015 via a tunnel — his second escape from a high-security jail in 14 years — sparking a huge manhunt.

In ADX, though, his talents will be less useful — no one has ever escaped from the jail since it opened in 1994.

The Sinaloa Cartel leader was found guilty on Tuesday of all 10 counts in a drug-trafficking trial in the US and now faces life in prison at his sentencing hearing, scheduled for June 25.

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