Colombian Prison Search Finds Drugs, Alcohol After Recent Wild Gambling Parties

Posted on: April 28, 2023, 03:14h. 

Last updated on: April 29, 2023, 02:35h.

Police uncovered a truckload of contraband entering La Picota prison in a sting this week. This comes shortly after the institution came under fire for wild parties and illicit gambling.

An aerial view of Colombia's La Picota prison
An aerial view of Colombia’s La Picota prison. Contraband gambling, liquor, and drugs are still part of prisoners’ routines. (Image: Colombian Penitentiary and Prison Institute)

On Thursday, prison officials in Bogotá conducted a routine inspection of an inbound van, according to the media outlet El Colombiano. During the investigation, they uncovered a vehicle attempt to enter the compound with an arsenal of liquor and drugs.

The officials counted seven large drums of brandy and 80 bottles of Old Parr, Chivas, and Buchanan’s whiskey. There were also six bottles of Don Julio tequila, 174 bottles of brandy and 198 units of different-sized bottles of rum. The liquor ensemble included 150 cans of Heineken, Club Colombia, and Corona beer.

The van also contained illicit drugs, including 1,230 grams of marijuana and 485 grams of cocaine. Officers also discovered 10 cell phones and chargers, 300 SIM Cards, digital recorders, kitchen utensils, and radios. The shipment also included food, toiletries, and barbershop equipment.

The van driver told the authorities he was hired to drive the vehicle but was unaware of the truck’s contents. The man is now facing prosecution for manufacturing and trafficking narcotics. If investigators determine the items were stolen, he could face additional charges.

Weeklong Prison Party

Through a statement, the Penitentiary and Prison Institute (Inpec, for its Spanish acronym) said the search was part of the prison system’s increased efforts to control the ingress of contraband. Last October, media outlets got wind of a massive week-long party at La Picota that left Inpec with egg on its face.

That party was recorded in the videos of prison inmates who participated in the events, which later made their way to social media. It was complete with liquor, cigarettes, recognized music artists (popular Colombian singer Ana del Castillo was there), and gambling.

The sounds of the celebration could be heard blasting in the recorded videos, and there was no indication that the guards or prison officials ever intervened.

Ongoing Invesgiation

Inpec fired several high-ranking officials at the prison after the party came to light. The Attorney General’s Office of Bogotá also announced investigations and is still preparing charges against several involved.

Inpec put a PR spin on the new bust, asserting that it demonstrated the success of its new procedures. The attempt missed the mark.