Menu Close

El Chapo’s Next Home: the ‘Alcatraz of the Rockies’?

Is Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera, expected to receive a life sentence following his conviction Tuesday for drug trafficking, heading to the formidable “Supermax” prison in Florence, Co., known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies”?

Guzman, known as “El Chapo,” who escaped high-security Mexican prisons before his ultimate capture and extradition to the United States, seems an ideal candidate for the high-security prison that currently confines Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui,  and Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols, reports AP in a dispatch carried by USA Today.

Located outside an old mining town about two hours south of Denver, Supermax’s hardened buildings house the nation’s most violent offenders, with many of its 400 inmates held alone for 23 hours a day in 7-by-12-foot cells with fixed furnishings made of reinforced concrete.

Meanwhile, as prosecutors  reportedly seek to seize the billions in cash and assets accumulated by El Chapo during his career—some estimates put the figure as high as $14 billion—Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, argues that the money should be used to build a border wall with Mexico.

The trial of Joaquín Guzmán Loera and his conviction Tuesday on drug-smuggling charges ended a decades-long career at the top of the illicit global narcotics trade.

The two-month trial revealed in remarkable detail the inner workings of his criminal empire, which rivaled governments and multinational companies in its power and sophistication, the Wall Street Journal reports. Trial testimony revealed the secrets of the Sinaloa cartel’s organizational structure, including how cocaine and marijuana came across the U.S. border in the walls of freight trains, how in-house tech experts built encrypted communications networks and how the cartel moved money using debit cards, suitcases of cash and private planes.

But some experts suggest that El Chapo’s conviction will do little to reduce Sinaloa’s power in the drug business, AP reports. 

“It’s still a major, major force in the Mexican criminal underworld,” Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said.

See also: After El Chapo, Ignore Drug Kingpins, say Experts.

Guzmán’s underlings  sounded as if they were describing corporate life. Former operations managers detailed infrastructure, accounting ledgers, supply-chain issues and the need to “protect the capital of the investors.” Guzmán referred to the cartel as “la empresa,” or “the company.”

Prosecutors alleged Guzmán was involved in dozens of murders, and had ordered the burning of two cartel enemies after he had shot them in the head. Cartel leaders allegedly paid millions in bribes to every level of Mexican law enforcement, which helped them stay in operation for decades. The U.S. has called the Sinaloa cartel the largest drug-trafficking organization in the world.

The murders and bribes facilitated its goal of maximizing the profits from smuggling illegal drugs into U.S. cities. Guzmán’s lawyers said he wasn’t the real cartel leader and had no money.

They plan to appeal.