Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mexican drug traffickers complaining of U.S. prison conditions

By Dane Schiller
Thursday, September 29, 2011

Big-league Mexican drug traffickers imprisoned in the United States are contending that unnecessarily harsh conditions — locked up alone in ultra-high-security confinement — take a physical and psychological toll and may violate U.S.-Mexico extradition treaties.

The courthouse pleadings for relief come from men who cut their teeth and made their names in a criminal underworld that has carried out unheard of levels of brutality in Mexico, including murder by beheading, mutilation, hanging and massacre.

But at least one U.S. federal judge on Thursday conceded the claims have some merit. He ordered that Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, whose father runs the Sinaloa Cartel, a criminal syndicate in which Zambada was a ranking member, should be let out of his cell for outdoor recreation time on a roof top.

As Zambada waits to see if he'll face trial, he has been largely confined to a windowless 10-by-6-foot cell for “18 months of isolation without seeing the sun or breathing fresh air,” contended his lawyers in a request to the judge.

He and others admittedly are part of cartels that for decades have pushed tons of cocaine and marijuana into this country, and they have been sent to a U.S. justice system that is far tougher than that of Mexico.

“The word on the street in the United States is you can't bribe your way out of prison or bribe your way into better living conditions,” said former Houston-based federal prosecutor Mark W. White III. “In other places, it might not be as uncomfortable.”

Such high-profile prisoners have many enemies, and officials have said they are kept in isolation to ensure their security. Zambada, for example, contends he should not be prosecuted because while trafficking, he served as an informant for U.S. agents by giving them the cartel's intelligence on rivals.

Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsly said the length of a prisoner's sentence, as well as any history of violence and escapes are among the factors considered when determining where and how they should be held.

Also, a federal appeals court in California is deciding whether it is legal to automatically hold Jesus Hector “El Guero” Palma Salazar, one of the Sinaloa Cartel's founders, in isolated custody at the so-called supermax prison in Colorado.

“Supermax confinement is arguably in violation of international standards and numerous international treaties, many of which have been signed by Mexico,” his lawyers said in an appeal that was heard last month. Their argument is based on the premise that Mexico might have refused extradition if officials knew the cruel conditions prisoners would face.

The lawyers further say he is being kept there based on unproven allegations of murder and other crimes in Mexico, not on any misconduct in the United States.

They point to a Federal Bureau of Prisons notice that says Palma was placed in supermax because in Mexico he was involved in numerous acts of extortion, corruption of public officials and murders as well as ordering the slayings of a rival gang member's children in retaliation for the murder of his own wife and children.

Additionally, the notice said that keeping Palma in any prison less than a supermax would pose a threat to safety.

Former Gulf Cartel boss Osiel Cardenas Guillen, who was extradited from Mexico to Houston in 2007 to face trial, was shuttled between a variety of state and federal facilities — always kept away from other prisoners.

Without public explanation earlier this year, Cardenas, who is a citizen of Mexico, was moved from a federal penitentiary in Florida to the same supermax where Palma is held.

In addition to "El Guero" Palma and Osiel Cardenas Guiller, other drug lords known to be incarcerated in the U.S. Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado include Juan Garcia Abrego "La Muñeca", former head of the Gulf Cartel; Francisco Xavier Arellano Felix "El Tigrillo", former drug lord in the Tijuana Cartel; Juan Matta-Ballesteros, a former Honduran drug lord incarcerated for drug trafficking and his role in the 1985 kidnapping and murder of DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena

In some rare instances, U.S.-style security is being used in Mexico for high-profile prisoners, said Houston lawyer Kent Schaffer, who is representing Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez, a Texan who reputedly rose to the top ranks of a Mexican cartel.

Valdez is under heavy guard and being kept alone as he waits to see if he'll be sent to the United States to face trafficking charges.

He's rarely let out and is only allowed to read the Bible, Schaffer said.

“Personally, I think it is just a matter of time until he gets worn down,” Schaffer said. “You can just imagine the effect it has on somebody being cooped up in there.”

Schaffer, who represented R. Allen Stanford, jailed on charges rooted in a massive investment scandal, said his time in isolation made him almost unrecognizable.

“It was horrible. For the first couple of weeks, he was fine. After that, he was a totally different person, and it all started with solitary,” Schaffer said. “Can you imagine what it'd be like to be locked up all day like that for weeks or months or years?”

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  1. Does anybody have an inmate number and an address where we can write any of them? Say what you want but some of hese guys are the most intelligent and/or interesting guys I ever met

  2. A point here on a different issue, but very much demonstrated in this article. It's about capital punishment.

    I am not for it. I do believe that there are some people on this world who deserve to die for their crimes. They just do. But there is more to it than that. They have families who usually are innocent, with mothers who do not want to see their sons murdered. But most of all, it costs billions of dollars in legal fees and court hearings, all of which would be better spent on schools and medicine. They have generally wasted far too many resources already, without us making it worse.

    I have always said that, in some cases, CP isn't the worst we could do. The worst to do, for maximum revenge power, is indeed, solitary confinement. Here, in this article, we get the perfect example of the pain they go through. They have to live with themselves. And nothing else. No visits. No phones. Just bread, water and a bucket. Even the guard should be hooded.

    No wonder people are angry about Richard Ramirez. A nasty serial killer, on death row, with an enormous group of women fans, a wife he married in jail, education, TV, newspapers, books, computers, exercise and tax dollar endorsed legal representation. Why is he, and others like him, not in solitary confinement? Having a lawyer trying to get you off death row gives them hope. Hope is something that we should take away for these criminals.

    The criminal system needs an overhaul. It is a great system here in the US, with harsh penalties for criminals, but we are bogged down by CP. The answer is no capital punishment, more solitary confinement. For life. No books, no computers, no mail, no TV, no girlfriends, and no wives. No contact. No letters, no visits. Illness should be allowed to take it's natural course.

    Just bread, water, and a bucket. And of course, themselves.

  3. i think cartel scumbags should get nothing less than: Both legs and arms amputated, ears drilled out, tongue cut off, castrated, and finally blinded. Stick an iv in these lowlifes to keep them alive, sit them in a corner and let them live out the rest of existence jailed within their own thoughts and nothing else.

  4. This is just fodder for the bleeding-heart liberals to use to justify their inane policies.

  5. They are so used to the soft bullshit prisons run by the cartels in Mexico, well we dont play that shit in the U.S. you scum bag pieces of shit... Be lucky I am not running the prison because you would be breathing the same recirculated 5 gallons of air changed only every 24 hours, you would NEVER see the outside ever again and you would be fed what is called "nutri-loaf" which is the main lines 3 meals ground up into one loaf... No TV, no store, no books....


  7. good to hear a little about El Guero. His story is fascinating to say the least. He was very powerful in his hay-day. I am sure alot of BB readers don't even know who he is or his story. I am sure the restrictions on Zambada-Niebla are going to ease up mark my words.

  8. El problema que tienen los gringos es que se enojan por que no les pudieron quitar los millones de dolares que ellos hicieron. Que es ilegal pero lo trabajaron no matter how los gringos son ambiciosos y hambreados y envidiosos.

  9. Bienvenido a los Estados Unidos Pinche Vicente!

    Usted es el Perro de regazo de Chapo Guzman!

  10. @ 7:16, Yeah Guero Palma is old school.. What happened to him was really sad though. Received his wife's head in a box, and his two kids were killed in South America.

  11. What a bunch of pussies! They are big and bad when it comes to snuffing out human life, or flooding the US streets with drugs that kill and ruin lives, but they cry because they are "all alone". I'm sure if they try hard enough they can buy some 'perks'. Those drugs have to get into US prisons some how! We in the US are afraid of Mexico prisons, and the Mexicans are afraid of US prisons. WTF!?!?! It's crazy how these fuckers can't take the heat! Wait till Guzman is sitting behind US bars. He at least will have his US citizen twins to come and visit, and "kiester" some coke in their asses to give him! When will Mexicans take back Mexico?!

    1. Jxt for you keep dreaming that El Cheapo Guzman will be seating in a prison in the U.S. cuz for 11 years he's been fleeing every DEA, FBI nd all Mexican federal he will never see the prison again.....

  12. @ sept. 29, 11:07pm....go ahead and knock yourself out you pen-pal prisoner lover, run Jesus Niebla's name thru, maybe you'll be lucky and get a mailing

  13. “It was horrible. For the first couple of weeks, he was fine. After that, he was a totally different person, and it all started with solitary,” Schaffer said. “Can you imagine what it'd be like to be locked up all day like that for weeks or months or years?”

    That's why it's called prison punishment, asshole !

  14. Simply, he gets to breathe air and live, which is the very thing he didn't give to his victims.

  15. This is probably the worst thing for these type A kind of guys. I am all for paying for thier isolation cause you know these guys would rather die, I mean this guy could be alive for another 20 years, Slooooooooow death with nothing to look at except white walls....Wow

  16. These guys were sentenced to prison, for a specific amount of years by a judge or a jury. They were not sentenced to a specific amount of years of torture. The use of total isolation with no communication with anyone for extended periods of time is torture at it's finest. Why are we singling out these people for this specific treatment. Used briefly (30 to 90 days) solely as a behavior modification for acts in prison such as assault, rape, threats, escape, is most certainly appropriate but not just because we can. And deep down, we all know complete isolation for the full sentence is not the intent of the law. Just as criminals break the law, so can criminal justice and law enforcement when they bend and interpret law the way they want to use it. This type incarceration can be used by our government to keep people from exposing the governments involvement in crimes and that is exactly what is happening in the Niebla case. Why has the Bureau of Prisons decided they are the ones that can interpret how what a judge, jury and the constitutions intent for punishment is? Personally, serial killers, serial rapists, and child molesters are more deserving but it is not my call. Just as you, I am only a 1 in a 400,000,000 voice of the United States of America. If you want to know the core of a country, look at their prisons. We are only as just as our criminal justice system.

    And I am sure John Wayne and Johnny Law want to be's will have a field day with this post. "They" are what "they" are.

  17. all of a sudden the machos turn out to be a bunch of pussies.

  18. @9/29 11:07PM,

    Yo dumbass, if they were so intelligent, they wouldn't be locked up in a supermax prison whining like bitches! The fact that you want to start a "bromance" with any of these turds speaks volumes about your personality. Get a life dude...and btw any communication with these assholes is scrutinized and screened with short, your fan mail won't make the cut. It's amazing the support and sympathy these psychopaths generate over time...while the countless families they destroyed goes largely forgotten..

  19. Treaties are treaties and should be abided no matter who is the prisoner.

    But the main point that I have is that why should MY TAX DOLLARS be used keep MEXICAN criminals in our jails when mexicans could very well imprison their own.

    ps. keeping them in a supermax aint cheap.

  20. "Anonymous said...

    Does anybody have an inmate number and an address where we can write any of them? Say what you want but some of hese guys are the most intelligent and/or interesting guys I ever met
    September 29, 2011 11:07 PM "

    There's nothing interesting about these ruthless cowards. Crying about conditions while locked up? seriously, what about all the innocent people they've killed, the widows, the orphans, the innocent bystanders with life altering scars, and amputations, the mothers, the fathers that have lost their sons?? And this freaking coward is crying because he doesn't get treated with compassion?? You are a tool! You should go down to Mexico and proclaim your love for these dickless retards, and see how that goes.

  21. Complain, complain - that's all the fucking lawyers do. The badass narcos like the barbie are going crazy from the boredom and from jerking off 'til their dick's one big scab. Tough shit, shut up and be a macho man.

    Capo I don't mark anything you say because you have nothing to say.

  22. The social isolation of people who have once been feared, adored, and pampered like kings must be psychologically telling.

    After many months or years of isolation, some of the characters should be ripe for snitching to our experts in fighting organized crime.

    A taco de carnitas for a bit of information might sound pretty good after months of "Nutri-Loaf"? Just saying.

    Mexico Watcher

  23. After alfredo beltran leyva got locked up and his older brother declared the split with chapo and anyone associated with him,Vicente Zambada Niebla was the one to replace Mochomo in the Sinaloa Cartel,he was appointed that spot by his father,so he really didnt have to do much,he always had what he wanted and the Antrax group of sicarios in Culiacan was ultimately ran by him,with help from his dad,he was also in charge of overseeing operations of drug trafficking that were being sent to the US,which was the job that mochomo did for years.Vicente Zambada was one of the guys who was taking the fight to the Beltran and Carillo in Sinaloa,along with Manuel Torres,El Macho Prieto,Licensiado Damaso,Ivan Gurrola,el Cholo,El Micki,El 50,and Mario Nunez"M10"and his brother "M11",this last two recently split and joined the Zetas and allies,they were both plaza bosses in Durango,therefor allowing Zetas,CDJ to enter Durango.Like I was saying Vicente along with his dad were one of the main people responsible for the exaggerated violence in Sinaloa and other places,so for him to be crying like a lil girl is funny.That guy,Vicente Zambada killed so many people,he ordered god knows how many kills.

  24. and I'm sure Americans in Mexican prisons have all the luxuries and dietary needs met?

  25. I wonder how the conversation goes when one of the top capo's kids says "dad, I'm not too keen on the drug lord thing, kinda thinking about becoming marine biologist...." There is a Will Ferral movie in there somewhere......but those who say our tax dollars are going to waste keeping them in there are way off base, you must demonstrate we don't F around and you won't get to go out on some blaze of bullets with ur gold gun by yor side, ESPECIALLY when you get to the top. I'm mean do you see that picture of where this place is? There's not even a tree for a hundred miles,

  26. How's this, scum: How bout we weld you into your cells and let ya rot.

  27. I would figure Cente would want to be away from all the cons. Since, he has been outed as a DEA informant. No matter what happens, the judge who rules on this case is going to be looked at to see if he was bought by El MZ.

  28. @9:38, they are in the Supermax for two reasons: for their safety and to control communications. Their acts led them to isolation from the general population and the general sense of 'prison'.

    You can define 'torture' as you choose, but what you deem to be torture, is actually keeping them alive and from harming other people.

    A child molester who has contact with the outside work doesn't order a hit, direct a shipment of drugs, or even molest another child. Thus, the need for less isolation and security.

    Your skewed view of justice leads you down a road that doesn't understand the bigger picture and what is at whole families who could be murdered if any one of these guys thought they were part of setting them up. Does a child molester or rapist have that power? No.

  29. Huh this article is such BS. What about Agent Jesus Diaz who was a Border Patrol Agent who tugged on the cuffs of an illegal who was resisting now sits in the same cell identical that these low lifes are in. And congress isnt really doing much about it. But these scum bags might and probably will get better treatment WTF!?!?

  30. everybody knows that El Peinado y El M1 took over responsibilities formerly held by Junior. El M10 and M11 still work for Sinaloa and have never defected so your intel on that is wrong. Don't fall for all the rumors you hear wether it be here or on other Narco sites. The real people from Durango and Sinaloa know the real deal. "Neta"

  31. who gives a fuck what they think

  32. I really don't care whether it right or wrong, as a nation of law and torch carriers of the world as we claim to be, should this be our actions/solutions to everything were dictate is wrong or to our benefit. One should seek information on your own family background and you'll surprise to find injustices done to your kind due to someone else conception of wrong or right. History is a bitch, once your know yours.

  33. "but some of these guys are the most intelligent and/or interesting guys I ever met"

    You need to get out more, and stop playing with the road kill and do your homework.

  34. They should have the option of having their heads cut off while someone video tapes it..... cry me a river assholes

  35. Too harsh for you?? Too FUCKIN bad!! My giv-o-shit meter is broken for their fuckin ass.

  36. Without the guns and drugs these criminals are just a bunch
    of cry baby, bueno pa nada, sorry SOB's!!
    Give credit to the military police who risk their lives to put these, I'll Say It Again, cry baby, bueno pa nada, sorry SOB's where they belong!!!
    God bless the police and their family!!!

  37. Hello, to the person who wants info address on these scum bags!!!
    666 Hell Street
    Go f--k yourself
    U mk8 mi s6k

  38. This for all the losers of the US . If y'all wouldn't been demanding all this drugs they wouldn't even traffic them this why the US are filled up with homeless nd rednecks that can't even talk nor undestan what they saying also this cartel Lord's had a treaty with the DEA meaning they the scume baggs that don't know what's a treaty nd fuck the US. If it hurts you comment batch hahhahahahhahahahahahahhahahahahahah



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