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What it’s like inside El Chapo’s prison cell

  • He was sentenced to life in 2019 for a massive drug conspiracy
  • His wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, was released from prison Wednesday
  • The prison housing El Chapo is known as the Alcatraz of the Rockies

FILE – In this Feb. 22, 2014 file photo, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, is escorted to a helicopter in Mexico City following his capture in the beach resort town of Mazatlan, Mexico. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

FLORENCE, Colo. (NewsNation) — Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, is free after serving her three-year prison term.

Most of her time was served in a Texas prison for her role in her husband’s vast drug empire. In the end, she was transferred to a low-security halfway house in California before her release Wednesday.

But her husband, the former head of the powerful Mexican Sinaloa cartel, will spend the rest of his life in a federal prison south of Denver. It is considered the most secure prison in the world.

El Chapo was never one to stay behind bars for long. In 2001, he broke out of a Mexican prison in a laundry cart. Nearly 15 years later, he again escaped, this time through an elaborate tunnel.

Once recaptured, he was extradited to the U.S., where he stood trial and was convicted in 2019 to life in prison on trafficking charges.

It’s in the United States that he’ll spend the rest of his life along with some of the country’s biggest criminals.

USP Florence ADMAX is known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” It’s been home to high-profile prisoners like shoe bomber Richard Reid, the late Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, spies, gang and syndicate leaders.

The prison is spread out over 50 acres in Florence, Colorado. Prisoners are kept in 7-by-12-foot reinforced concrete cells.

They spend 23 hours a day inside the soundproof and tamperproof room. All furniture is concrete and secured to the ground. Sink, toilet and shower plumbing is timed so as not to flood, and inmates are given limited items to prevent self-harm. There is one small mirror and one small window that prevents prisoners from knowing the location of their cell.

Prisoners are moved to different cells every three months through a series of 1,400 remote-controlled steel doors. Armed guards in hovering towers oversee inmates who get one hour a day outside in a small concrete courtyard covered in barbed wire.

The guard-to-prisoner ratio is considered higher than most prisons, and headcounts are taken six times a day. Meals are slid through small slots in steel doors.

In August, a letter was leaked that El Chapo had written. In it, he complained about the lack of sun exposure and treatment from guards.


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