Want to find out how hard prison life can really be – forget Strangeways, Pentonville and Wormwood Scrubs, this is hard time Latin style in the World’s Toughest Prisons.
Tonight at midnight on Discovery Channel we go inside two of the planet’s most violent institutions. Unlike prisons in the UK the guards stay firmly on the outside – they’ll patrol the walls, but inside the prisoners are in charge.
Santa Martha in Mexico and Lurigancho in Peru are two of Latin America's toughest prisons and in these jails rape, murder and starvation are facts of life and prisoners accept that there is only a 50 per cent chance of survival.
Santa Martha is known as the ‘Cathedral of Crime’ and is a perfect example of how the Mexican prison system is in crisis. Because of the country’s out of control drugs war it is massively overcrowded – up to six men to a cell.
This is where the worst-of-the-worst are sent – prisoners too violent for other jails. We’re guided by Tony – an American gang leader serving a sentence for killing some of his rivals.
Tony is a big man and sports scars, gunshot wounds and tattoos in equal measure. This is a guy you wouldn’t want to meet on the street at midday, never mind an alley in the dark. But in Santa Martha he is constantly in danger.
Potential violence is everywhere. 15,000 weapons were confiscated from the inmates in Mexican prisons last year.
If you want to find out more about the most dangerous places on Earth, tune in tonight at midnight on Discovery Channel for World’s Toughest Prisons.