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Many of the toughest criminals live their lives behind the walls of Florence ADX, located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
From the Boston bomber to Al-Qaeda members, here are some of ADX’s worst criminals.
Robert P. Hanssen – Soviet Spy/Former FBI Agent
Former FBI agent and Soviet spy Robert Hanssen was sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences after making about $1.4 million selling US information to Russia.
He served with the FBI for 25 years from 1976 to 2001, selling thousands of documents.
He pleaded guilty to 14 counts of espionage and one count of espionage.
Hanssen’s crime was considered “possibly the worst intelligence disaster in US history,” according to… Denver Mile High Magazine.
Ramzi Ahmed Yousef – World Trade Center Bomber
Yousef was one of the World Trade Center bombers in 1993. He was sentenced to life plus 240 years.
A 1,300-pound nitrate-hydrogen gas bomb exploded on February 26, 1993 in the north parking garage of the WTC. The bomb killed six people and injured thousands more.
He was detained until 1995 after he fled to Pakistan. He told the court he was “proud” to be a terrorist.
Only six bombers, including Yousef, were caught. Abdul Rahman Yasin is still at large.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab – Underwear Bomber
Abdulmutallab was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for attempting to bomb Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day in 2009.
He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism that crosses national borders; attempted murder within the United States Special Aircraft Jurisdiction; intentionally placing a destructive device on an aircraft, which could endanger the safety of the aircraft; attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction; intentionally attempting to destroy and vandalize a civil aircraft; and three counts of possession of a destructive device for the promotion of a violent crime.
His plan was thwarted after the bomb only caught fire rather than exploded. He was arrested on board.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – Boston Bomber
Tsarnaev was sentenced to life in prison after he and his brother set off bombs during the 2013 Boston Marathon.
The bombs killed three people and injured more than 250.
He was found guilty of 30 charges, including use of a weapon of mass destruction, and was sentenced to death by lethal injection. His lethal injection was undone in July 2020, but reinstated in March 2022.
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim – Co-founder of Al-Qaeda
Salim is serving a life sentence in prison.
He was arrested in Germany in 1998 for his connections to the bombings of the US embassy in Kenya and Tanzania.
He was originally sentenced to 32 years, but his sentence was extended to life without parole after he stabbed a prison guard in 2010.
Richard C. Reid – Al-Qaeda member
Reid, a British ISIS member, is serving three consecutive sentences, plus 110 years, and is now the reason airline passengers have to take off their shoes while going through security.
In 2001, he shoved explosives into his shoes aboard an American Airlines flight en route from Paris to Miami. Unfortunately for him, the bombs never went off and he was arrested after an emergency landing at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
El Chapo – Mexican drug lord
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced to life plus 30 years for his international drug distribution.
He was transferred to ADX in 2019 after repeatedly escaping from Mexican prisons. In 2001, he was smuggled out of a Mexican prison in a laundry basket, and in 2015 he escaped through a hatch in the shower.
He was sent to ADX because it is known as an inescapable prison.
Terry Nichols – Oklahoma City Bomber
Nichols was sentenced to 161 consecutive life sentences after he and his friend Timothy J. McVeigh killed 168 people with their bombs in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.
The attack was the largest murder in the US before September 11, 2001.
Nichols was hundreds of miles away on the day of the bombing of his Kansas home and turned himself in two days later after discovering he was an interesting person.
On May 10, 1995, he was charged with the crime. Nichols turned out to be some of the key points in the plan, including renting storage lockers and stealing 299 explosives, 544 blast caps, and a detonation cord.
Fingerprint evidence linked Nichols and McVeigh.
In 1998 he was sentenced to life imprisonment and was spared the death penalty.
McVeigh died in 2001 from a lethal injection at USP Terre Haute.
Ted John Kaczynski – Unabomber
Although Kaczynski is no longer at the facility, after being recently transferred to a medical prison in North Carolina, he was sentenced to multiple life sentences.
The highly skilled criminal began his reign of terror in May 1978 and lasted until April 1995.
The math prodigy came to prominence for his manifesto — which was published in full in the Washington Post and The New York Times in 1995 — sent a series of bombs in the mail over 17 years, killing three people and injuring 23.
He now resides with FMC Butner, which is known for treating inmates with significant health problems.
Vincent Basciano – Mafia boss
Mafia boss Vincent Basciano also enjoyed the facility at H-Unit from 2011 to 2015, until he was transferred out of the facility. It is unclear where he was taken, but he was taken to a less restrictive prison.