Following his arrest in Bolivia for drug dealing, Thomas McFadden was imprisoned in San Pedro prison, Bolivia’s largest correctional facility located in La Paz.
His story is told in Marching Powder. It’s next one the list for our Book Club. Colm Ashe has this quick review.
San Pedro is infamously known around the world, as it is essentially run by the prisoners themselves. Cells must be purchased by inmates, and costs are dependent on size and location, elected leaders enforce rules drawn up within the prison, all the while huge quantities of cocaine are produced in-house and sold to tourists, providing a substantial source of income for the inmates. Within this harsh environment Thomas spotted a unique business opportunity; tourism. He began providing guided tours for backpackers within the prison, and became so popular that he was featured in the Lonely Planet’s guide to Bolivia. When Australian journalist Rusty Young went on one of Thomas’ tours they became friends, and Rusty decided to remain in the prison to record Thomas’ story, having to bribe guards to allow him stay. What ensued is a fascinating account of South American drug culture that delves into prison life, corruption, drug lords, violence and crime.
Why not come along to the Beyond Book Club’s next meetup on Monday, March 31st 7pm to discuss this fantastic book over tea. They meet at the Foam Cafe on 24 Strand Street Great, (just off Jervis Street) in the Italian Quarter, Dublin