Now Convicted, Will 'El Chapo' Spend the Rest of His Life in Prison?

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 12, 2019 2:10 PM

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman will surely be sentenced to life in prison, but will he stay there?

After a jury convicted the Mexican drug lord of all counts in a federal court, Judge Brian Cogan is expected to sentence Guzman to life without parole.

However, Guzman has been there before. Each time he escaped.

Folk Hero

Despite evidence from more than 50 witnesses against him, El Chapo is a folk hero in Mexico for repeatedly escaping from jail. After he was convicted of drug trafficking the first time, he bribed his way out.

Thirteen years later, the Mexican Navy arrested him with help from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He got away through a mile-long tunnel his henchmen dug to his cell.

This time, he has been held in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. It has been called tougher than Guantanamo Bay. In New York, prisoners cannot even see the outside world.

At times in court, however, Guzman smiled and even waved at people as if he knew something they didn't.

Supermax Prison

Despite his mystique, Guzman will likely do time in the Supermax prison in Colorado. It's definitely not a Mexican prison.

Known as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies," the Supermax holds 400-plus inmates in "control units" that function as prisons within prisons. Inmates are confined to single-person cells for up to 23 hours a day.

"The prisoners really have no contact with other prisoners, all their movements are controlled," said Martin Horn, a professor of corrections. "They get limited privileges, limited contacts. It's a tough place to do time."

One source -- a former prisoner at the Supermax -- told Reuters the conditions there are inhumane. "Those guys at Guantanamo had it much better than we did," he said.

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