Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Brazilian prisons - havens for wealthy convicts?

There have been a series of reports about Brazilian prisons, and the ability of inmates there to run their gangs and criminal enterprises almost with impunity from behind bars. To give just one example, here's a report from early this month.

With a plasma TV, a DVD player, $172,000 in cash, gym equipment, two refrigerators and a couple of guns, Genilson Lino da Silva had everything he needed for a luxurious life -- in his Brazilian prison cell.

It came to an end on Monday when his cell, which also contained a king-sized bed, was raided in a police operation against drug traffickers in the northern city of Salvador.

"He was alone in all that comfort. It wasn't very big but the other cells had several prisoners in them," a spokesman for Bahian state authorities said on Tuesday.

Officials said Da Silva, also known by his nickname "Leg," was serving time as the biggest drug trafficker in Bahia state. He was reported as saying the money in his cell was from old robberies and gambling in prison.

"We will investigate if the leaders of the prison were conniving in this," Paulo Gomes, a state prosecutor, told reporters.

He said he was not surprised that kidnappings, murders, and drug trafficking were being directed from inside the jail. "The surprise was finding 280,000 reais ($172,000) inside a cell."

Now we learn of an intriguing - and ingenious - way of bypassing prison checks on contraband.

A sharp increase in drugs and cellphones found inside a Brazilian prison mystified officials - until guards spotted some distressed pigeons struggling to stay airborne.

Inmates at the prison in Marilia, Sao Paulo state had been training carrier pigeons to smuggle in goods using cell phone sized pouches on their backs, a low-tech but ingenious way of skipping the high-tech security that visitors faced.

Officials said the pigeons, bred and trained inside the prison, lived on the jail's roof, where prisoners would take their deliveries before smuggling the birds out again through friends and family.

The scheme was uncovered when guards on the prison walls saw some pigeons struggling to fly.

Ingenious indeed! Perhaps it's time for a pigeon shoot around the walls of the prison . . .


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ohhh, poor pigeons. Someone should call PETA. Those poor birds are being abused and mistreated.

Why does any civilization give prisoners accomodations above a confined space and minimal food?