After being sentenced to life in prison, the Mexican drug lord was whisked away to an undisclosed location.
Throughout his long and bloody career, the drug kingpin known as El Chapo has proved to be a master of escape, breaking out of two Mexican prisons to continue his reign leading the Sinaloa cartel.
Within hours of being sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the notorious Mexican crime lord, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, was whisked away from a federal jail in Manhattan and transferred to an undisclosed location, his lawyers said.
On Thursday, federal prison officials would not say where he had been taken, and even his lawyers had yet to be informed of his whereabouts. They expect he will end up at the nation's most forbidding federal prison, the US Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, or ADX, in Florence, Colorado.
The intense secrecy surrounding Guzmán's transfer to another prison reflected the anxiety over his Houdini-like ability to engineer escapes in the past and the deep financial resources at the disposal of the cartel. (Prosecutors say a "conservative" estimate of Guzmán's career earnings is about US$12.7 billion.)
Guzmán was last seen being escorted from US District Court in Brooklyn by US marshals at about 10:20am Wednesday, after Judge Brian M. Cogan sentenced him to life in prison plus 30 years on murder, drug and money laundering charges.
Hours later, one of his lawyers, Mariel Colón Miró, attempted to visit Guzmán at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Manhattan, where he was taken in 2017 after being extradited from Mexico, and was told he was no longer in custody of the jail, she said.
When Colón contacted the jail, she was told that Guzmán had been taken to an airport for transport elsewhere, Colón said.
A spokeswoman at the Metropolitan Correctional Center would not say on Thursday if Guzmán was still in its custody, and said she could not locate records of his whereabouts. A spokesman for the US attorney's office in Brooklyn also declined to say where Guzmán had been taken, stating that the information was classified.
Information about Guzmán's location was not available on the federal Bureau of Prisons website. In a statement Thursday afternoon, the bureau said it could not reveal Guzmán's location until he had arrived at a facility, adding it had "no additional information to provide."
On Wednesday, Cogan did not specify where Guzmán would serve his sentence, but one of his lawyers, Jeffrey Lichtman, said he understood his client would be housed at the ADX in Colorado.
Also known as the Alcatraz of the Rockies, the ADX, where inmates spend 23 hours a day inside their cells, is reputed to be an escape-proof fortress.
Officials at the ADX, located on a barren stretch of desert 65km south of Colorado Springs, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At his sentencing, Guzmán's lawyers asked that he be allowed to remain in custody in New York City for 60 days while they prepared an appeal.
During the trial, Guzmán had been housed in the maximum security wing of the federal jail in Lower Manhattan, kept in isolation and denied nearly all visits except those from his lawyers and his young twin daughters. He had complained previously about conditions there, and at his sentencing he called his confinement at the prison "psychological, emotional and mental torture 24 hours a day."
Federal prosecutors did not object Wednesday to the request to keep Guzmán in Manhattan, but Cogan told both parties that he would leave the decision to the Bureau of Prisons and the US Marshals Service.
The Marshals Service confirmed Thursday afternoon that Guzmán is in custody but did not provide further information. The Bureau of Prison's online inmate locator did not provide any information about Guzmán, and the Marshals Service said it would be updated "upon his arrival at a designated BOP facility."
If Guzmán were to end up at ADX, he would be one of a number of prominent criminals housed in the facility's 500 cells, which are made of poured concrete and are intended to be impossible to escape.
Among those housed there are Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is awaiting execution for his role in the Boston Marathon bombings; Terry L. Nichols, an accomplice to the Oklahoma City bombing; Theodore J. Kaczynski, the Unabomber; and Robert P. Hanssen, an FBI agent who spied for Russia.
Guzmán did manage to escape from a concrete cell once before. In his most infamous escape — coordinated by his wife, according to testimony at his trial — Guzmán climbed through a mile-long tunnel his underlings had dug underneath the prison walls into a shower in his cell.
According to testimony, prisoners at the maximum-security prison in Almoloya, Mexico, complained of the noise of crunching concrete, as cartel associates hollowed out the tunnel, which was lighted and ventilated and had a motorcycle awaiting to speed his escape. When Guzmán emerged, his brother-in-law was waiting for him with an all-terrain vehicle, which they rode to an airstrip.
Written by: Emily Palmer
© 2019 THE NEW YORK TIMES