When Dubliner Paul walked through Caracas airport in Venezuela with a suitcase stuffed with cocaine, he thought he was making easy money - but he paid the price.
Prisoners armed with rifles. A woman’s head shot off in front of you. A toilet floor for a cell. Listening to the cries of an inmate being slowly stabbed to death. A riot that left a reported 19 dead, with their mutilated corpses thrown into a prison corridor.
This wasn’t what Paul had in mind when he walked through Caracas airport in Venezuela with six kilos of cocaine stuffed in his suitcase. It was supposed to be a straightforward drug run for a local gang with a payment of 15,000 euro to carry the drugs, with a street value of over half a million euro, back to Ireland. But when security officers closed in, the drug mule knew the game was up.
He faced eight years in Los Teques prison, outside Caracas, one of the world´s most brutal jails. Just over two years into his sentence, several stone lighter from a hunger strike and recovering from an infection he nearly died from, he decides to flee.
On his way home after several days of a bus-ride across the Andean mountains he makes his way to the border to Colombia and bribes his way into the neighbouring country.
Finally, at Bogota airport he boards a flight to Dublin. He thought his journey was over when he landed in Dublin airport. Yet an Irish reporter who interviewed him in Los Teques two years before happens to be on the same flight.
In this week's ‘Documentary on One’ - that journalist Jeff Farrell and the drug mule escapee who he met in Dublin Airport with the aid of extensive diaries - diaries kept throughout his time in Los Teques tells of the horrors of life behind bars in one of the world´s worst prisons.
Compiled and narrated by Jeff Farrell.
Produced by Ciaran Cassidy.
Sound Supervision by Richard McCullough.
Diary extracts read by Ger Carey.
Spanish translations were by Dayana Bautista.
First broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday 25th June 2011 @ 2pm
An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries.