One of Mexico’s richest drug lords lives in luxury in his prison cell, attended by a butler and a private chef, demonstrating that the country’s most high-profile criminals are still able to play the system to enjoy opulent lifestyles behind bars.
Rich or influential prisoners at the Reclusorio Norte prison in Mexico City, known as “godfathers of the jail,” can pay for access to a special VIP area, Milenio reported. A minimum of 15,000 pesos (around $790) buys a cell in this exclusive wing, while additional privileges such as televisions, internet and conjugal visits can be purchased separately. Well-off prisoners can even rent a “monster” — another inmate who serves as their personal assistant.
In recordings published by Milenio, an associate of Abigael González Valencia, alias “El Cuini,” can be heard detailing the lavish comforts available to the gang leader. In the conversation, the associate tries to convince a South American escort to visit the jailed capo, noting the string of women he has received in his cell and the generous service she can expect there.
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“Where he is, is paradise,” he assures her.
The allegations regarding El Cuini’s opulent prison lifestyle stand in stark contrast to other prisoners at the Reclusorio Norte, who reportedly suffer from overcrowding and maltreatment.
González Valencia was the head of “Los Cuinis,” the alleged financial arm of the notorious Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación — CJNG). Despite the group’s relatively low profile, the United States government has described Los Cuinis as the world’s wealthiest drug cartel.
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El Cuini’s case suggests that, even as Mexican authorities claim that the luxuries once obtainable in federal prisons are a thing of the past, influential prisoners are exploiting legal loopholes to secure places in medium-security state jails, where such corruption remains rife.
Shortly before Milenio published the incriminating recordings, El Cuini was moved from Reclusorio Norte to the maximum-security prison of Altiplano. However, his lawyer succeeded in filing a protection order, commanding his return to Reclusorio Norte in just three days.
El Cuini is one of several high-profile criminals to have fought legal cases to be allowed to serve their sentences in medium-security prisons. Others include Unión de Tepito gang leaders David García Ramírez and Roberto Moyado Esparza, and alleged Tláhuac Cartel leader Luis Felipe Pérez.
Such legal cases are made via the Supreme Court of Justice’s stipulation that prisoners should serve their sentences close to home, according to Milenio, even though the regulation is not intended to apply to those convicted of involvement with organized crime.