Prison violence escalates in Colombia’s capital Bogota

Special prison forces (Image: INPEC)

Authorities reported an uprising inside the La Modelo prison in Colombia’s capital Bogota hours after the assassination of its director.

The escalation of violence highlight increasingly violent tensions between Colombia’s imprisoned populations and prison authority INPEC.

Both the assassination and the riot have been linked to an obscure convict nicknamed “Pedro Pluma,” so sent death threats to the assassinated prison director, Elmer Fernandez, last week.

According to INPEC, special forces were forced to enter La Modelo to quell the uprising, which reportedly erupted in Block 4 and Block 5 of the prison.

Images shown of the death threat indicate that Pluma has been serving a prison sentence in Block 4.

El Modelo prison map

Newspaper El Espectador reported that the special INPEC forces used teargas to repress the riots in the southwest of the prison.

Meanwhile, prison guards closed off roads around the prison, according to images.

Justice Minister Nestor Osuna, who is responsible for INPEC, urged the National Protection Unit to immediately grant protection to INPEC personnel that have reported death threats.

The minister told press that the surge in violence in prisons throughout Colombia was a response to INPEC’s “Operation Dominion.”

INPEC kicked off the operation in July last year to  “prevent intramural extortion, combat corruption and maintain control and security inside correctional facilities.”

According to Osuna, more than 500 prison guards have received death threats in the past two years and at least two had been assassinated before Fernandez.

Among those who had been threatened was El Modelo’s director, who last week reported two death threats that were signed by “Pedro Pluma from the 4th.”

On the two pieces of paper, Pluma threatened to kill Fernandez’s family if the prison director continued to search cells or transfered the convict.

Death threats sent to the director of El Modelo

 

While the situation in La Modelo was unfolding, deputy prison director Oscar Alejandro Tovar announced his resignation.

Fernandez was allegedly assassinated on Thursday evening after dropping his deputy home after work.

Neither Fernandez nor Tovar had been granted protection by the UNP in spite of the threats against the prison director’s family.

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