You must have heard of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman - probably the most notorious drug cartel leader in the world. He is a Mexican drug lord, who was previously incarcerated in Mexico but had a movie-like gateway. Sometime after his escape, Mexican Special Forces were able to catch him again, only this time, they sent him to a US-based maximum-security prison. Today's story is going to analyze how "El Chapo" is finding life, living in a mainland US prison.
A maximum security prison is one of those places where a person can very easily lose his mind. The lights and air conditioning are on all the time, and El Chapo has pretty much no free hours at all. No matter a psychologist said that he might be going crazy.
El Chapo is housed in a rather small cell - the cell is 6x2 meters in size, and it has no windows. Apart from that, he also doesn't have a television (so he has no contact with the outside world) and can listen to the radio once a day for only a few minutes at a time.
As a punishment, the US authorities have removed El Chapo's watch, which combined with his sedentary lifestyle and no ability to go outside or have windows in his cell, means that he has lost all sense of time - he has no idea whether it is day or night.
Just as the previous paragraph mentioned, El Chapo has lost the notion of time - because he can't see the sun at any point during the day. Since his prison sentence won't be changed, this means that he probably won't see the sun for the rest of his life.
Not only is El Chapo prohibited from having any visitors (and that's for the entirety of his life), but he also not allowed to talk or see other prisons. In addition, he also can't even talk to the person that is bringing him his food.
Due to the strict regime, he is placed under, the US authorities must account for every hour of El Chapo's life. This means that even exercise is a potential liability/escape route for the hardened criminal, which is why they only allow him to exercise for 1 hour per week.
By most estimates, El Chapo actually doesn't even speak a word of English - despite selling tons of drugs to English-speaking countries around the world. This means that the guards not only don't have to talk to him, but they also couldn't understand him even if they wanted to.
Due to the severity of his crimes and escape attempts, El Chapo basically has no rights that other prisoners usually have. He doesn't even have the right to a single phone call, which means that he won't ever have the ability to contact another family member.
According to El Chapo's lawyers, his health has greatly deteriorated in the past few years since his imprisonment. He suffers from frequent and severe migraines, and he has trouble breathing and he complains of hearing excess noise and voices while in his cell.
While El Chapo is only allowed one hour of exercise per week, that does not mean that he has access to a full-fledged gym during that time. The "gym" which is actually a cell that he has access to only features a single stationary bicycle and a treadmill. No deadlifts for El Chapo.
According to some leaked documents that describe El Chapo's situation, he can only get meals that are passed through a slot in the door - after getting his meal, he eats it alone, without speaking a single word to another human being.
The documents continue describing his situation, saying "The light is always on. With erratic air conditioning, he has often lacked enough warm clothing to avoid shivering." Not sure if the erratic air conditioning is on purpose, as a way to torture him, or due to some technical problem.
His lawyers have requested that El Chapo is allowed to exit solitary confinement so that he can join other inmates. This speaks volumes about his need to socialize with other human beings - even hardened criminals can't let go of this foundational instinct.
El Chapo was expressly extradited to the United States on January 19. Knowing what he has done in his past, he still pleaded not guilty to the charges of drug trafficking, conspiracy, and murder. Just imagine how much work his lawyers are going to have to prove that.
The weirdest part of this story is the location where El Chapo is being held - it is not some remote island or desert. He is actually living in a place of prime real estate - the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a prison in lower Manhattan, sometimes called "the Guantanamo of New York."