Gruesome tales from inside the world’s most violent prison have emerged after plans to convert it into a museum.
The Maracaibo National Prison, also known as Sabaneta Prison, was considered to be one of the most violent jails in the world.
It was operated by the Ministry of Prison Systems in Venezuela from 1958 until it was closed in 2013 following a deadly incident.
Sabaneta was severely overcrowded and at the time of closure it was home to 3,700 inmates despite being built to occupy just 700 prisoners.
Almost 200 occupants were children of the inmates.
There are now plans to turn the former prison, which can be found in the city of Maracaibo, into a museum so people can visit and learn about the historical running of corrupt prison systems.
Inmates of the Sabaneta jail in Maracaibo, a city in northwesten Venezuela
Like many Venezuelan prisons, gangs of inmates ran the facility, although there was one “pran” who acted as the designated leader.
Sabaneta was plagued by riots, including a particularly deadly incident on January 3, 1994.
A fire was started by a group of inmates as a result of ongoing gang activity. They then shot or stabbed people who tried to escape the blaze.
There are reports that more than 150 people were killed as security guards attempted to regain control of the facility.
Oswaldo Espina, an inmate who survived the incident, said prisoners were armed with firearms, Molotov cocktails and knives.
This riot is often cited as one of the deadliest prison incidents to date and drew international attention to the poor conditions of Venezuelan prisons. The overcrowded facility housed 3,700 inmates
A 2013 riot also claimed the lives of 16 inmates, with some being dismembered and beheaded.
15 of these died in fights between rival gangs, with the other victim being killed in a separate incident.
The government claimed weapons smuggling by corrupt guards aided the violence and this led to the closure of the prison.
Iris Varela, who was Prisons Minister at the time, said the incident had been “the result of an internal war within the prison”. Inside the worlds worst prison – where inmates are beheaded in gruesome massacres
A total of 69 inmates were killed that year.
Mocho Edwin was “pran” at the time of the prison’s closing.
He was imprisoned for committing triple homicide and was known for drug sales and prostitution throughout the facility.
When Sabaneta was closed, Edwin put up a fight, unwilling to leave his kingdom.
A year before the prison’s closure, it was revealed that as little as eight wardens were on duty at any time.
This lack of security meant gang violence was common and most violence within Sabaneta is attributed to feuding gangs.
Government raids were carried out frequently and often revealed massive amounts of weapons and drugs.
One raid even found a collection of animals being housed in the prison, including farm animals, pedigree dogs and endangered species.
Among the animals being kept were an ocelot, turkeys, raccoons, and a couple of macaws, according to a regional newspaper, La Verdad.