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No exit: El Chapo likely off to 'Alcatraz of the Rockies'

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FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2007, file photo, guard towers loom over the administrative maximum security federal prison called Supermax near Florence, Colo. Experts say the drug lord Joaquin

NEW YORK (AP) — In the world of corrections, there are inmates who pose security risks, and then there's El Chapo.

Drug lord Joaquin Guzman has an unparalleled record of jailbreaks, having escaped two high-security Mexican prisons before his ultimate capture and extradition to the United States.

So with Guzman convicted Tuesday of drug trafficking and staring at an expected life sentence, where will the U.S. imprison a larger-than-life kingpin with a Houdini-like tendency to slip away?

Experts say Guzman seems the ideal candidate for the federal government's "Supermax" prison in Florence, Colorado, also known as ADX for "administrative maximum." The facility is so secure, so remote and so austere that it has been called the "Alcatraz of the Rockies."

"El Chapo fits the bill perfectly," said Cameron Lindsay, a retired warden who ran three federal lockups, including the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. "I'd be absolutely shocked if he's not sent to the ADX."

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 (2.1-by-3.7 meter) cells with fixed furnishings made of reinforced concrete.

Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols are among those who call it home.

But Guzman, set to be sentenced in June for smuggling enormous amounts of narcotics into the U.S and having a hand in dozens of murders, would stand out even from Supermax's infamous roster because of his almost mythical reputation for breaking out.

That includes a sensational 2015 escape from the maximum-security Altiplano prison in central Mexico, where he communicated with accomplices for weeks via cellphone, slipped into an escape hatch beneath his shower, hopped on the back of a waiting motorcycle and sped through a mile-long, hand-dug tunnel to freedom.

Bribery is widely believed to have enabled that jailbreak, as well as a 2001 escape in which Guzman was smuggled out of another top-security Mexican prison in a laundry basket.

"There had to be collusion from within," said Mike Vigil, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who worked undercover in Mexico. "There is no doubt corruption played a role in both of his spectacular escapes."

Could that happen at Supermax? Not likely.

Prisoners at Supermax spend years in solitary confinement and often go days "with only a few words spoken to them," an Amnesty International report found. One former prisoner, in an interview with The Boston Globe, described the lockup as a "high-tech version of hell, designed to shut down all sensory perception."

Most inmates at Supermax are given a television, but their only actual view of the outside world is a 4-inch window. The window's design prevents them from even determining where they are housed in the facility. Human interaction is minimal. Prisoners eat all meals in the solitude of their own cells, within feet of their toilets.

The facility itself is guarded by razor-wire fences, gun towers, heavily armed patrols and attack dogs.

"If ever there were an escape-proof prison, it's the facility at Florence," said Burl Cain, the former longtime warden of the maximum-security Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. "It's the prison of all prisons."

While federal authorities have not said for certain where El Chapo will be housed, he's staring at "a sentence from which there is no escape and no return," U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said after Tuesday's verdict.

Guzman's confinement leading up to his three-month trial included remarkable security measures reflecting his immense flight risk. He has been housed in solitary confinement in a high-security wing of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a Manhattan lockup known as "Little Gitmo" that has held notorious terrorists and mobsters.

Authorities have routinely shut down the Brooklyn Bridge to shuttle El Chapo to federal court in a police motorcade that includes a SWAT team and ambulance tracked by helicopters. Heavily armed federal officers and bomb-sniffing dogs have patrolled outside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Officials were so concerned about security, in fact, that Guzman was forbidden from hugging his wife at his trial.

That apparently won't be a problem if he winds up in Supermax, where all visits are non-contact, and prisoners are separated from their visitors by a thick plexiglass screen.

"Other than when being placed in restraints and escorted by guards, prisoners may spend years without touching another human being," the Amnesty International report found.

The Rocky Mountains can be seen in the distance behind the Federal Correctional Complex near Florence, Colo. Within the complex is Supermax, where Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin
This Oct. 7, 2014, file photo shows
In this 1994 file photo, federal corrections officer William Brown stands in the doorway of a typical cell in a general population unit at the US Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Security facility in Florence, Colo. Experts say the drug lord Joaquin
FILE - This Feb. 11, 2004, file photo provided by the Bureau of Prisons shows the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, Colo. Clockwise from lower left is the minimum security Federal Prison Camp, the high security United States Penitentiary, the maximum security United States Penitentiary and the Federal Correctional Institution. Experts say the drug lord Joaquin
FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2016 file photo, drug lord Joaquin


FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2007, file photo, guard towers loom over the administrative maximum security federal prison called Supermax near Florence, Colo. Experts say the drug lord Joaquin
FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2007, file photo, guard towers loom over the administrative maximum security federal prison called Supermax near Florence, Colo. Experts say the drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who will be sentenced on June 25, 2019, for smuggling enormous amounts of narcotics into the U.S and having a hand in dozens of murders, seems the ideal candidate for "Supermax" prison also known as ADX for "administrative maximum," a facility so secure, so remote and so austere that it has been called the "Alcatraz of the Rockies." (Chris McLean/The Pueblo Chieftain via AP)
FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2016 file photo, drug lord Joaquin
FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2016 file photo, drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is made to face the media in Mexico City as he is escorted by Mexican soldiers following his recapture six months after escaping from a maximum security prison. The notorious Mexican drug lord was convicted of drug-trafficking charges, Tuesday, Feb. 12 2019, in federal court in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)
In this 1994 file photo, federal corrections officer William Brown stands in the doorway of a typical cell in a general population unit at the US Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Security facility in Florence, Colo. Experts say the drug lord Joaquin
In this 1994 file photo, federal corrections officer William Brown stands in the doorway of a typical cell in a general population unit at the US Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Security facility in Florence, Colo. Experts say the drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who will be sentenced on June 25, 2019, for smuggling enormous amounts of narcotics into the U.S. and having a hand in dozens of murders, seems the ideal candidate for the federal government's "Supermax" prison in Florence, Colo., also known as ADX for "administrative maximum," a facility so secure, so remote and so austere that it has been called the "Alcatraz of the Rockies." (Mark Reis/The Gazette via AP, File)
The Rocky Mountains can be seen in the distance behind the Federal Correctional Complex near Florence, Colo. Within the complex is Supermax, where Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin
The Rocky Mountains can be seen in the distance behind the Federal Correctional Complex near Florence, Colo. Within the complex is Supermax, where Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman will be serving his prison sentence. Known as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies," the Administrative Maximum Security facility, also referred to as Supermax, houses some of the most notorious criminals to set foot in an American courtroom. (Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP)
This Oct. 7, 2014, file photo shows
This Oct. 7, 2014, file photo shows "Supermax," US Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Security facility, near Florence, Colo. Experts say the drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who will be sentenced on June 25, 2019, for smuggling enormous amounts of narcotics into the U.S and having a hand in dozens of murders, seems the ideal candidate for "Supermax" prison also known as ADX for "administrative maximum," a facility so secure, so remote and so austere that it has been called the "Alcatraz of the Rockies." (Tracy Harmon/The Pueblo Chieftain via AP, File)/The Pueblo Chieftain via AP)
In this Jan. 19, 2017 photo provided by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman arrives at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., after being extradited to the United States to face drug trafficking charges. Guzman, was convicted Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, of running an industrial-scale smuggling operation after a three-month trial packed with Hollywood-style tales of grisly killings, political payoffs, cocaine hidden in jalapeno cans, jewel-encrusted guns and a naked escape with his mistress through a tunnel. (United States Drug Enforcement Administration via AP)
In this undated photo provided by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman looks out the window of an airplane. Guzman, was convicted Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, of running an industrial-scale smuggling operation after a three-month trial packed with Hollywood-style tales of grisly killings, political payoffs, cocaine hidden in jalapeno cans, jewel-encrusted guns and a naked escape with his mistress through a tunnel. (United States Drug Enforcement Administration via AP)
FILE - This Feb. 11, 2004, file photo provided by the Bureau of Prisons shows the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, Colo. Clockwise from lower left is the minimum security Federal Prison Camp, the high security United States Penitentiary, the maximum security United States Penitentiary and the Federal Correctional Institution. Experts say the drug lord Joaquin
FILE - This Feb. 11, 2004, file photo provided by the Bureau of Prisons shows the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, Colo. Clockwise from lower left is the minimum security Federal Prison Camp, the high security United States Penitentiary, the maximum security United States Penitentiary and the Federal Correctional Institution. Experts say the drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who will be sentenced on June 25, 2019 for smuggling enormous amounts of narcotics into the U.S and having a hand in dozens of murders, seems the ideal candidate for the federal government's maximum security, "Supermax," prison, also known as ADX for "administrative maximum," a facility so secure, so remote and so austere that it has been called the "Alcatraz of the Rockies.". (Bureau of Prisons via The Gazette via AP, File)