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Drug kingpin El Chapo joins group of notorious inmates at Colorado 'Supermax' prison

Megan Henney

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the notorious Mexican drug kingpin, entered a federal maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado – known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” – to serve out his lifetime prison sentence, joining a slew of infamous inmates.

On Wednesday, Guzman was sentenced to life in prison, plus 30 years, in a federal court in New York. A jury convicted him in February of drug trafficking and murder conspiracy as the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel and one of the most high-profile drug kingpins since Pablo Escobar. The court also ordered Guzman, 62, to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture.

In addition to smuggling thousands of tons of cocaine, heroin and marijuana across the U.S.-Mexico border, Guzman staged two escapes from Mexican prisons. He was ultimately extradited to the U.S. in 2017 to face U.S. charges.

Guzman’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, is expected to file an appeal on his client’s behalf, according to the Denver Post.

“It’s basically some more torture,” he said of the Administrative Maximum U.S. Penitentiary, or ADX, which is one of 17 high-security prisons maintained by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Prisoners at the facilities are in solitary confinement 23 hours every day in a room that has a narrow window, about 42 inches high, angled upward so only the sky is visible, according to Reuters.

The cost per prisoner at the penitentiary in Florence is $78,000. The Government Accountability Office's report shows that this figure is triple the cost of housing inmates in general population, although costs vary by state. In Colorado, state penitentiaries had an average cost per inmate of $39,303 in 2015. In other states, that cost is much higher -- for instance, in California, the average price tag is $64,642, while in New York it’s $69,3555.

The higher cost isn’t a surprise, given that the prison houses some of the most infamous criminals in U.S. history.

Ted Kaczynski, aka "The Unabomber"

 

Kaczynski, 77, killed three people and injured 23 others between 1978 and 1995 trying to start a revolution by starting a bombing campaign and targeting people with modern technology. He was the target of the longest and most expensive investigation in FBI history.

Under a plea bargain, he pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Zacarias Moussaoui, 9/11 co-conspirator

 

Moussaoui is a French citizen who pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill Americans as part of the September 11 attacks. He is serving six life sentences without parole.

Richard Reid, aka the "Shoe Bomber"

Reid, 45, is a British terrorist who attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes using a match while on an American Airlines flight. He was indicted on nine counts, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and is serving a life sentence.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Boston Marathon bomber

Tsarnaev, 25, was convicted of planting pressure-cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon in 2013, along with his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The bombs killed three people and injured close to 280 others.

He was convicted in 2015 of all 30 counts he faced and sentenced to death later that year.

John Walker Lindh, aka "The American Taliban"

Lindh served a short time in ADX before he was transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution at Terre Haute, Indiana. Lindh, who was captured in Afghanistan in the early days after the September 11 attacks, was released from prison in May after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence.

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In 2000, according to the documentation of his interrogation, Lindh trained with a radical group in Pakistan before he moved to Afghanistan and joined the Taliban.

Timothy McVeigh, Oklahoma City Federal Building bomber

McVeigh orchestrated the Oklahoma City Bombing that killed 168 people and injured close to 700 others, making it the deadliest act of terrorism within the U.S. before the September 11 attacks. It remains the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in the U.S.

He was found guilty on all counts in 1997 and sentenced to death. He was transferred from ADX to the federal death row at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute Indiana in 1999. He was killed by lethal injection in 2001.

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