United States Penitentiary, Tucson

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United States Penitentiary, Tucson
USP Tucson.jpg
Location Tucson, Arizona
Coordinates 32°04′53″N 110°51′29″W / 32.08139°N 110.85806°W / 32.08139; -110.85806Coordinates: 32°04′53″N 110°51′29″W / 32.08139°N 110.85806°W / 32.08139; -110.85806
Status Operational
Security class High-security (with minimum-security prison camp)
Population 1,580 (136 in prison camp)
Opened 2007[1]
Managed by Federal Bureau of Prisons

The United States Penitentiary, Tucson (USP Tucson) is a high-security United States federal prison for male inmates in Arizona. It is part of the Tucson Federal Correctional Complex (FCC Tucson) and is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. The facility also has a satellite prison camp for minimum-security male offenders.

USP Tucson is located within Tucson's city limits, 10 miles southeast of downtown Tucson.[2]


The Federal Bureau of Prisons drafted a report on March 28, 2001 naming Tucson as an ideal site for a new federal prison housing either 1,100 medium security or 1,000 high security inmates. A hearing was arranged the following May.[3]

Construction was completed in 2005 at a cost of about $100 million, but additional preparations took over a year before inmates could be received. The 584,000-square-foot (54,300 m2) facility is situated on a 640-acre (2.6 km2) property and designed for 1,500 inmates, though officials had at one time planned to limit the population to around 960. The minimum-security work camp provides labor for day-to-day operations of the federal prison complex. It has been described as "its own little city" by Josias Salazar, executive assistant of the prison complex. The opening of the penitentiary on February 5, 2007 worsened a local shortage of prison officers and was cited by residents for adding to the street traffic generated by the various prison facilities.[1][4]

Sex Offender Management Program[edit]

USP Tucson is one of several federal prisons which offers a Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) and therefore has a higher proportion of sex offenders in its general population. Having a larger number of sex offenders at SOMP facilities ensures that inmates feel safe about participating in treatment. USP Tucson offers a Non-Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-NR), which is a moderate intensity program designed for low to moderate risk sexual offenders. Many of the inmates in the SOTP-NR are first-time offenders serving a sentence for an Internet sex crime. All SOMP institutions offer the SOTP-NR. Eligible inmates are transferred to a SOMP facility based on their treatment needs and security level. USP Tucson houses several high-profile sex offenders.[5]

Notable incidents[edit]

The penitentiary went into lockdown on May 28, 2009 after several inmates were hospitalized from fights involving improvised weapons.[6] Another inmate, Joseph William Nichols, was sentenced to 33 more months after being caught on August 12, 2009 with a concealed plastic shank that had been fashioned from his prison chair. A search of the kitchen where Nichols had been assigned resulted in the discovery of hidden contraband packages containing weapons and drug paraphernalia.[7]

Media coverage[edit]

In July 2010, a San Diego CityBeat reporter mailed former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham to inquire about his time at the prison's work camp halfway into his 100-month sentence for tax evasion, conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud.[8][9] Cunningham, who has become an advocate of prison reform,[10] responded in a handwritten letter that he spends his days there teaching fellow inmates to obtain their GED.[10] He wrote: "[Too] many students have severe learning disabilities from either drugs or genetic[s]. During the past 4 years only one of my students was unable to graduate—I taught him life skills, using a calculator to add, subtract, [multiply and divide]. This way he could at least balance a check book."[8]

Notable inmates (current and former)[edit]

  • Inmates who were released from custody prior to 1982 are not listed on the Bureau of Prisons website.

High-profile inmates[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Whitey Bulger 02182-748 Serving a life sentence under his real name, James J. Bulger.[11] Entered January 2014,[12] moved to USP Coleman II September 2014.[13] Former leader of the Winter Hill Gang in Massachusetts and FBI Ten Most Wanted fugitive; apprehended in 2011 after 16 years on the lam; convicted in 2013 of ordering 11 murders, as well as extortion, money laundering and drug trafficking.[14][15]
Brian David Mitchell 15815-081 Serving a life sentence. Former street preacher and pedophile; convicted in 2010 of interstate kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines connection with the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart.[16]
Steven Dale Green 20848-058 Committed suicide in 2014 while serving a life sentence.[17] Former US Army Private; convicted in 2009 of murder, aggravated sexual assault and other charges for raping 14-year old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi near Mahmoudiya, Iraq and then killing her and her family in 2006.[18][19]
Louis Eppolito 04596-748 Serving a life sentence. Former NYPD detective; convicted in 2006 of carrying out murders and sharing law enforcement intelligence disclosing the identities of witnesses for the Gambino Crime Family; his partner, Stephen Caracappa, was also sentenced to life.[20]
Paul Bergrin 16235-050 Serving a life sentence. Disbarred criminal defense attorney; convicted in 2013 of racketeering conspiracy for assisting his clients engage in criminal activity and murder conspiracy for facilitating the murder of a witness in a drug case.[21][22][23]

Political figures[edit]

Duke Cunningham speaking to Vietnam veterans in 2005
Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Randy "Duke" Cunningham 94405-198 Released from custody in June 2013; served 7 years.[24] Former US Congressman from California; pleaded guilty in 2005 to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from company owners in return for awarding them contracts to produce military equipment.[25]
Giordano, PhilipPhilip Giordano 14302-014 Serving a 37-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2033. Mayor of Waterbury, Connecticut from 1995 to 2001; convicted in 2003 of violating the civil rights of two female minors by forcing them to perform sex acts on him.[26]
Timothy Villagomez 00590-005 Serving a 7-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2017. LT Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory, from 2006 to 2009; convicted in 2009 of fraud and bribery; highest-ranking official from the Mariana Islands to be convicted .[27]


Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Jaan Laaman 10372-016 Serving a 53-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2038. Member of the United Freedom Front, a Marxist group which carried out robberies and bombings at corporate and governments facilities in the 1970s and early 1980s; convicted in 1985 for his involvement in 10 bombings and attempted bombings in New York.[28]

Organized crime figures[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Diego Montoya Sanchez 04171-748 Serving a 45-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2046. Former leader of the Norte del Valle drug cartel in Colombia, which shipped $10 billion worth of cocaine into the US from 1995 to 2007; connected to over 1,500 murders; extradited from Colombian authorities in 2007; formerly on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List.[29][30]
William Pickard 82687-011 Serving a life sentence. Former Deputy Director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program at the University of California, Los Angeles; convicted in 2003 of conspiracy to produce and distribute the drug LSD; Pickard was the largest supplier of LSD in the United States at the time of his arrest.[31][32]
Amador Cortes-Meza 60141-019 Serving a 40-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2043. Convicted in 2010 of leading of a large scale sex trafficking ring which brought minor girls into the United States from Mexico and forced them into prostitution for his own financial benefit; three co-conspirators were also sentenced to prison.[33][34][35]
James Mozie 96728-004 Serving a life sentence. Convicted in 2011 of sex trafficking of minors, production of child pornography and other charges in connection with his running a Miami brothel dubbed the "Boom Boom Room," where clients paid for sex with minors.[36]
Rances Amaya 79247-083 Serving a 50-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2055. MS-13 gang leader; convicted in 2012 of acting as an enforcer for a large-scale sex trafficking ring in Virginia, in which girls as young as 14 were forced into prostitution to earn money for the gang.[37]

Law enforcement murders[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Kenneth Wilk 71208-004 Serving a life sentence. Convicted in 2007 of murder for fatally shooting Deputy Todd Fatta of the Broward County Sheriff's Office, who was executing a federal child pornography warrant at his residence in 2004.[38]
Dominic Gibson 10437-007 Serving a life sentence. Convicted in 1998 of first-degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting of Officer Robert L. Johnson of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department on April 27, 1997; accomplice Maurice Douglas was also sentenced to life.[39]


Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Tony Alamo 00305-112 Serving a life sentence. Cult leader from Arkansas; convicted in 2009 of ten counts of transporting minors across state lines for sexual purposes for using his influence to force children as young as 8 into marriages and sexual relationships.[40][41][42]
Anthony Villavaso 31550-034 Serving a 38-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2043. Former New Orleans police officer; convicted of civil rights violations in 2011 in connection with the 2005 Danziger Bridge shootings, during which police opened fire on a group of unarmed civilians, killing two.[43][44]
Jilani Abdiali

Abukar Beyle



Serving life sentences. Somali pirates; convicted in 2011 of piracy for the 2010 hijacking of the civilian yacht Quest, during which four hostages were killed; eight other pirates are also serving life sentences.[45][46]
Edward Oedewaldt 14701-035 Serving a 38-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2043. Arrested during the largest child pornography prosecution in US history; pleaded guilty in 2011 to being the system administrator of Dreamboard, a website whose members produced and traded images and videos of adults molesting children.[47]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dale Quinn (February 2, 2007). "Guard drain strains Tucson prisons". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  2. ^ "USP Tucson". Federal Bureau of Prisons. 
  3. ^ "Hearing on new federal prison". Arizona Daily Star. May 1, 2001. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  4. ^ Tim Ellis (December 28, 2006). "Federal prison nearly ready". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Admissions and Orientation Handbook: Federal Correctional Complex, Tucson". Federal Bureau of Prisons. 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Alexis Huicochea (May 29, 2009). "Tucson federal prison remains on lockdown after inmate fights". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Federal prison inmate in Tucson gets more time". KGUN-TV. Associated Press. October 22, 2009. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Dave Maass (August 11, 2010). "From Tucson with love". San Diego CityBeat. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Plea Agreement by Randy "Duke" Cunningham and the U.S. Attorney". 2005. Retrieved 2005-12-05. 
  10. ^ a b Jesse Zwick (August 11, 2010). "Randy "Duke" Cunningham: Prison Reform Advocate". The Washington Independent. Retrieved August 25, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Bulger Sentenced to Two Life Terms". Federal Bureau of Investigation. November 14, 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  12. ^ "Whitey Bulger is moved to federal prison in Tucson". Boston Globe. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "Whitey Bulger transferred to federal prison in Florida". Boston Globe. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  14. ^ Deborah Feyerick; Kristina Sgueglia (August 13, 2013). "High life brought low: Jury finds 'Whitey' Bulger guilty in killings, racketeering". CNN. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  15. ^ Seelye, Katharine (August 12, 2013). "Bulger Guilty in Gangland Crimes, Including Murder". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  16. ^ "Mitchell Sentenced to Life in Prison in Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping Case". Justice.gtov. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  17. ^ Almasy, Steve (February 18, 2014). "Former soldier at center of murder of Iraqi family dies after suicide attempt". CNN. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  18. ^ Dao, James (2009-05-21). "Ex-Soldier Gets Life Sentence for Iraq Murders". Iraq: NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  19. ^ Bright, Evan (May 8, 2009). "Private Green Guilty On All Counts". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  20. ^ Feuer, Alan (2009-03-09). "Louis J. Eppolito News - The New York Times". Topics.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  21. ^ Kocieniewski, David (May 20, 2009). "Lawyer’s Ways Spelled Murder, U.S. Is Charging". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  22. ^ Zernike, Kate (March 18, 2013). "New Jersey Lawyer Guilty of Murder". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  23. ^ "Attorney Paul W. Bergrin Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder Conspiracy and Racketeering Offenses". Federal Bureau of Investigation. September 23, 2013. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  24. ^ Chen, Sharon (June 4, 2013). "Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham released from prison". Tribune Broadcasting Company. Retrieved 11 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Ex-congressman begins prison sentence - US news - Crime & courts | NBC News". MSNBC. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  26. ^ Von Zielbauer, Paul (March 26, 2003). "Ex-Mayor Convicted in Sex Abuse Case". The New York Times. 
  27. ^ iSite Interactive Limited (2009-08-06). "CNMI former Lieutenant governor gets 7 years in prison". Islands Business. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  28. ^ Wald, Matthew L. (1987-05-22). "U.S. To Try Eight On A Rare Charge, Plotting To Overthrow The Governament - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  29. ^ "Leader of Colombian Drug Cartel and Former FBI Top-Ten Fugitive Pleads Guilty to Drug, Murder and Racketeering Charges". Justice.gov. 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  30. ^ "Colombian drug lord gets U.S. prison term - US news - Crime & courts | NBC News". MSNBC. 2009-10-21. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  31. ^ Silverstein, Stuart (2003-04-04). "Ex-UCLA Chemist Guilty in LSD Case - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  32. ^ "Drug Law Reporter: 10th Circuit Affirms Pickard's LSD Life Sentence". Rgbspecialprojects.blogspot.com. 2006-03-29. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  33. ^ "Victims of the 'unimaginable' speak out - US news - Enslaved in America | NBC News". MSNBC. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  34. ^ "Sex Trafficking Ring Leader Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison". Justice.gov. 2011-03-24. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  35. ^ "The sex slaves next door: New form of trafficking invades US". WXIA-TV Atlanta. April 4, 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  36. ^ "Oakland Park “Boom Boom Room” Organizer Sentenced To Life In Prison « CBS Miami". Miami.cbslocal.com. 2012-05-07. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  37. ^ Henrehan, John (June 15, 2012). "MS-13 gang leader Rances Amaya gets 50 years for sex trafficking". Fox News. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  38. ^ "Jury spares Wilk death sentence - Sun Sentinel". Articles.sun-sentinel.com. 2007-06-14. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  39. ^ Hansen, Ronald J. (May 22, 1998). "Two Men Convicted in Murder of D.C. Cop". Washington Post. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  40. ^ "Evangelist guilty of taking minors across state lines for sex". CNN. July 24, 2009. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  41. ^ "Evangelist Tony Alamo Sentenced to 175 Years for Taking Girls Across State Lines for Sex". Fox News. November 13, 2009. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  42. ^ Gambrell, John (November 13, 2009). "Tony Alamo, Evangelist, Sentenced To 175 Years For Sex Crimes". Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  43. ^ "USDOJ: New Orleans Police Officers Convicted of Civil Rights Violations in Danziger Bridge Case". Justice.gov. 2011-08-05. Retrieved 2013-02-12. 
  44. ^ Robertson, Campbell (April 4, 2012). "5 Ex-Officers Sentenced in Post-Katrina Shootings". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  45. ^ Nasaw, Daniel (2011-10-03). "BBC News - Somali pirates face hard time in US prison". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  46. ^ "USDOJ: US Attorney's Office - Eastern District of Virginia". Justice.gov. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 

External links[edit]