The Mexican president has described Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s life sentence as “inhumane” after the notorious drug lord was sent to live out his remaining years in a supermax prison in Colorado.
Guzman was sentenced to life behind bars in the US plus 30 years after being found guilty of running a murderous criminal enterprise, having already escaped Mexican prisons twice.
In his home country, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador referred to sentences like the one handed to Guzman to be served in a “hostile jail” as "hard” and “inhumane", adding that it made life no longer worth living.
The 62-year-old had been protected by an army of gangsters under the Sinaloa cartel, which he founded in 1989, up until his most recent incarceration.
In 1993 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico, however he was able to bribe guards to receive favourable treatment while also managing the cartel from inside his cell through his brother, who ran the cartel in his absence.
In 2001 he escaped from the maximum-security Puente Grande prison in Jalisco, reportedly in a laundry basket.
Some 13 years later he was imprisoned for a second time, but escaped again through a tunnel running 30ft beneath the Toluca prison showers to a house under construction a mile away.
In 2016 he was arrested after a gunfight in Los Mochis before being extradited to the US, where he has remained since.
Guzman has lodged frequent complaints about the conditions of his detention in the US, describing it as “torture”.
Just hours after his sentencing, Guzman was flown by helicopter to USP Florence Admax, a top security prison in Colorado dubbed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies”.
His fellow prisoners include the “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Terry Nichols, who was convicted of being an accomplice in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
“I drink unsanitary water, no air or sunlight, and the air pumped in makes my ears and throat hurt,” he said at his sentencing. “This has been psychological, emotional and mental torture 24 hours a day.”
It comes as the Mexican president, who took office in December last year, introduces a militarized police force to help limit violence across the country as cartels splinter and smaller groups fight to consolidate territory.
In 2016 the drug wars in the country made it the second deadliest place in the world, while in 2018 Mexico broke its own homicide record with 28,816 murder cases opened across the year.
Mr Obrador added: “I also have many victims in mind, it’s something very painful.”
An opinion poll hosted by Mexican newspaper Reforma found that 52 per cent of people surveyed believed Mr Obrador’s attempts to limit crime in the country were lacking, while 55 per cent said they believed he was failing to reduce violence in the country.
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