US judge blasts drug lord El Chapo's 'overwhelming evil,' imposes life sentence

Above, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman being extradited to the United States on January 19, 2017. The notorious drug lord was found guilty by a US jury in February of trafficking tons of cocaine, heroin and marijuana. (Interior Ministry of Mexico/AFP)
Updated 17 July 2019

US judge blasts drug lord El Chapo's 'overwhelming evil,' imposes life sentence

  • Joaquin Guzman was found guilty by a jury in February of trafficking tons of cocaine, heroin and marijuana
  • US prosecutors have claimed that ‘El Chapo’ sold more than $12 billion worth of drugs

NEW YORK : Joaquin Guzman, the convicted Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo, has escaped twice from maximum-security prisons in Mexico, once by digging a mile-long tunnel from his cell.
If U.S. authorities have their way, a third escape for Guzman will never happen.
A federal judge in Brooklyn sentenced Guzman to life in prison, plus 30 years, on Wednesday.
Authorities have not said where he will be imprisoned. But he likely will spend the rest of his life at the U.S. Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado, the cumbersome name for what is better known as ADX Florence, the nation's most secure "Supermax" prison.
No one has escaped from the prison since it opened in 1994, and Guzman would join a long list of the most infamous of criminals who call it home.
"It's very well designed for its purpose, to hold the most dangerous offenders in the federal prison system," said Martin Horn, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and former commissioner of the city's Department of Correction.
"In his previous two escapes, Guzman has demonstrated that he may be a greater risk of escaping than pretty much anyone else. That makes ADX Florence an appropriate place for him."
Guzman, 62, was convicted on Feb. 12 of trafficking tons of cocaine, heroin and other drugs into the United States as the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, where prosecutors said he amassed power through murders and wars with rival cartels.
Guzman is currently at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. He said at his sentencing that he had been subjected to "cruel and inhumane" treatment during his 30 months of confinement.
At a news conference following the sentencing, Guzman's attorney said he was not certain which prison his client would be sent to, but presumed it would be Supermax.
"It actually may be a walk in the park compared to what he's experiencing now," said the lawyer, Jeffrey Litchman.

ALCATRAZ OF THE ROCKIES
Located about 115 miles (185 km) south of Denver, ADX Florence is nicknamed "Alcatraz of the Rockies" after the San Francisco prison whose inmates included the gangsters Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly, and Robert Franklin Stroud, known as the Birdman of Alcatraz.
ADX Florence's current roster of about 376 inmates reads like a who's who of notorious criminals.
Among those calling the prison home are "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, Terry Nichols from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and Ramzi Yousef from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York.
Prisoners are typically confined for around 23 hours a day to solitary cells, each with a narrow window about 42 inches (107 cm) high and angled upward so only the sky is visible.
They can watch TV in their cells, and have access to religious services, educational programs and a commissary.
But special restrictions are used to ensure that inmates cannot exert influence or make threats beyond the prison walls. Prisoners cannot move around without being escorted. Head counts are done at least six times a day.
Guzman's first escape came in 2001, purportedly in a laundry cart and with the help of prison officials he had corrupted. His second escape, through the tunnel, came 14 years later.
Horn said ADX Florence "is literally built into the side of a mountain, with a robust security infrastructure."
Could Guzman penetrate that? "I would never say never," he said, "but it's highly unlikely."


NASA investigating first crime committed in space: report

Updated 10 min 1 sec ago

NASA investigating first crime committed in space: report

  • Astronaut Anne McClain is accused of improperly accessing her partner’s private financial records while aboard the International Space Station
  • McClain’s lawyer said the astronaut accessed the account only to monitor the couple’s combined finances

WASHINGTON: US space agency NASA is investigating what may be the first crime committed in outer space, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Astronaut Anne McClain is accused of identity theft and improperly accessing her estranged wife’s private financial records while on a sixth-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the Times said.
The astronaut’s spouse Summer Worden filed a complaint earlier this year with the Federal Trade Commission after learning McClain had accessed her bank account without permission, while Worden’s family filed another with NASA’s Office of Inspector General, according to the newspaper.
McClain’s lawyer said the astronaut had done nothing wrong and accessed the bank records while aboard the ISS in order to monitor the couple’s combined finances — something she had done over the course of their relationship, the Times reported.
NASA investigators have contacted both women, according to the newspaper.
McClain, who returned to Earth in June, gained fame for being one of two women picked for a historic all-female spacewalk, but NASA scrapped the planned walk in March due to a lack of well-fitting spacesuits, sparking accusations of sexism.
Worden said the FTC has not responded to the identity theft report, but that an investigator specializing in criminal cases with NASA’s Office of Inspector General has been looking into the accusation, according to the Times.