Inside El Chapo's cell: Reinforced cage with concrete slab bed that ex-cons call 'high-tech hell'

Inside El Chapo's cell: Reinforced cage with concrete slab bed that ex-cons call 'high-tech hell'

February 14, 2019

The drug lord, who has an unparalleled record of jailbreaks, is destined to spend 23 hours of each day in what amounts to a reinforced cage.

Come June, when El Chapo is sentenced after being found guilty in a New York court of unparalleled drug trafficking, he’ll be making himself at home in one of America’s "supermax" jails.

Most likely he’ll be packed off to a prison in Florence, Colorado, dubbed the "Alcatraz of the Rockies".

Prisoners are locked up in a single-person reinforced concrete cell which measures a mere 7ft-by-12ft, which are specifically designed to create what one ex-prisoner described as a "high-tech version of hell, designed to shut down all sensory perception".

The bed is a poured concrete slab. A thin mattress is placed on top and there are blankets.

There is a combined toilet and a sink and drinking fountain. The shower has a timer to stop prisoners flooding their cell.  

Furniture consists of an immovable concrete desk and stool.


Some prisoners are allowed a small black-and-white TV,  but El-Chapo will be unable to catch up on Narcos on Netflix — it only shows carefully chosen educational and religious programmes.

Each cell has a slit-like 42in-tall while the four-inch-wide window is angled to prevent views of the sky.  

Prisoners often go days even weeks "with only a few words spoken to them," an Amnesty International report found.

And to make sure inmates don’t talk to each other cell walls are sound-proofed.

Meals are slipped through a flap in the door.

And should an inmate need a doctor, they must talk to them remotely through teleconferencing.

Former warden Robert Hood has described the supermax as “life after death”, adding it’s “far worse than death”.

Commonly it is known it as “the prison of prisons” and human rights groups claim it is even “worse than Guantanamo”.

It is life after death… far worse than death

When taken outside their cells for the daily one hour exercise, inmates wear leg irons, handcuffs and stomach chains.

This hideous existence is all a far cry from his billionaire life of luxury that was bankrolled on murder and the misery of drug addiction.

During his three month trial in Brooklyn it emerged that He had houses at every single resort in Mexico as well as ranches in every single state.

His Acapulco beach house featured a zoo with a "little train'' used to ride around and see lions, tigers and panthers.

There also was a yacht docked there called "Chapito''.

But in his new home he is going nowhere fast, despite 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 El Chapo 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 US 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.



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