Books and a view
Ward, 64, roams the large yard, takes algebra classes, reads books on American history and enjoys the views of the Sierra Nevada.
He's still alive, even after all the close calls of his extreme smuggling years: mechanical failures at 10,000 feet, days stranded in a sweltering desert, encounters with Alaskan bears, Mexican cops, Colombian guerrillas, shotgun-toting thieves and stingy drug lords.
Some days, he has regrets, but not on this day. After all, a few more years in this relatively genteel setting and he'll be a free man again.
"I'm the absolute luckiest person on Earth," Ward said. "If you're going to put your luck against mine, you haven't got a chance."
MORE: The players | Evidence, wiretaps and testimony | How the drug pipeline worked | Photos: DEA surveillance
Part One: Unraveling Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel
Part Two: The drug trafficker and the psychic
Part Four: Showdown in Sinaloa
About this story
For several years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration put the distribution side of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel under a microscope. This series describes the detailed picture that emerged of how the cartel moves drugs into Southern California and across the United States. Times staff writer Richard Marosi reviewed hundreds of pages of records, including DEA investigative reports, probable-cause affidavits, and transcripts of court testimony and phone surveillance. He also interviewed DEA agents, prosecutors and local law enforcement officers serving on DEA-led task forces, as well as two cartel operatives convicted in the investigation.