Cocaine & cockfights: Latin American jails are crazier than most U.S. colleges

Cocaine & cockfights: Latin American jails are crazier than most U.S. colleges

VicesJanuary 15, 2018 By Eleanor Gray

Some jails in Latin America look wilder than certain U.S. colleges.  

In Brazil, there's this scene:

A table filled with cocaine, 120 lines of it, in a hallway of a prison; at least a dozen male inmates bend over to hoover it. Forty more inmates behind them look stoked to be lining up for their white boogers, too.

In American jails, they serve baloney sandwiches. In Brazil: coke. Their punishment looks like a New York City nightclub back in the '80s.

The throwdown was put together by one of the gangs that control the jail. Which makes sense: what better way to win loyalty?

Brazilian jail females party too. Video shows one gaggle dancing and snuffing yak and smoking spliffs. 

There's a prison beauty pageant in Brazil, too. Evening wear is stripes; formal wear is orange jumpsuit; talent competition is honing shivs.

Jail probably shouldn't suck as hard as it does in America. It's bad enough to have your freedom taken away: why make inmates suffer so much, too?

In Latin American jails — north to south, from Brazil to Mexico — there are a few breaks in the bleakness.

For example: a year ago, video surfaced from the main hall of a jail in El Salvador that got all Wolf of Wall Street, as a group of naked women undulated their breasts while hordes of men ululated encouragement and later (one supposes) ejaculated solo.

These stories add to the legendary stories of crazy Latin hoosegows. In one Mexico jail, inmates dance and pour liquor down their gullets. In another Mexican jail, there's allegedly bullfights and prostitutes.

In Venezuela, there's a prison so nice — pool, boxing club, barbecues, cockfights — that it's been nicknamed the Yacht Club.

To be fair, Latin American jails are also often "corrupt, violent and overcrowded," "a violent nightmare" and "incubators of organized crime," where you're less likely to snort coke and watch strippers than get cornholed, robbed and fragged both by fellow inmates and by wardens meant to protect you. A lot of the awesome conditions are won by drug gangs bribing guards.

These luxury incarceration environments seem most prevalent in our southern hemisphere. North Korean prisons don't have Bacardi. Saudi jails don't have cabaret. Maybe Icelandic prisons have erotic dancers, but probably not as often as in Latin America. Scandinavia is cold; they might stick to the pole.