The dismembered remains of at least 100 prisoners and visitors have been found in the sewer system of a Colombian prison in Bogota.
According to CNN, authorities are investigating the disappearance and potential murder of these victims, focusing on an especially overpopulated Colombian prison, La Modelo. It’s unclear at this time who could be responsible for killing more than 100 people and disposing of their bodies in the sewer pipes, but the deaths could be related to the ongoing problem of overcrowding within the facility.
“The number of victims is unknown, but we know it’s over 100 and could be considerably higher,” said special prosecutor Caterina Heyck Puyana. “The victims were inmates, visitors and people who had nothing to do with the prison. Their remains were thrown in the drainage system.”
Police believe the practice of dismembering dead bodies and dropping them into the sewer happened frequently between 1999 and 2001 in prisons in the cities of Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, and Popayan. Heyck told the attorney general’s office that the authorities have been investigating La Modelo for several months.
“Towards the end of last year we began investigating the possible disappearance and dismemberment of an undetermined number of people at La Modelo prison in Bogota,” she said.
According to the Mirror, one explanation for the disturbing discovery could violence between inmates within the prison. La Modela is virtually bursting at the seems, roughly holding 11,000 inmates. Other prisons with bodies found in the sewer have exceeded capacity by more than 400 percent.
The Bogota facility is notorious for its internal violence, particularly due to the fact that the north wing of the building contains left-wing Marxist rebels, while the south wing houses right-wing paramilitaries. The space between the wings often becomes a scene of extreme violence as prisoners with polar-opposite beliefs mix. The dismembered bodies found in the sewer could be evidence of the grisly aftermath.
Investigators suspect that two inmates, Mario Jaimes Mejía and Alejandro Cardenas Orozco, both members of the paramilitary group, could be partially responsible for the bodies found in sewers. Reports say that Jaimes was known to bribe prison guards to give him free reign of the opposing wing, turning a blind eye as he killed other prisoners.
Both Jaimes and Cardenas have been accused of kidnapping, raping and torturing female journalist Jineth Bedoya. While reporting on the right-wing paramilitaries in Bogota, she was captured by a group of men, beaten and repeatedly raped.
Bedoya spoke at a press conference on Wednesday regarding her alleged attackers, Jaimes and Cardenas, being included in the investigation of the bodies found in sewers.
“I’m grateful for the actions being taken today, but it should’ve happen years ago,” she said. “El Panadero’s testimony taken more than 15 years ago, his version of the story, which is completely false, was endorsed by a prosecutor and that allowed for the process to stall and the case to remain in impunity.”
Whether or not the accused paramilitaries did kill the prisoners and visitors, it’s still uncertain who exactly tried to hide the evidence by cutting up bodies and throwing them in a sewer. Authorities are doubtful that the identities of the victims will ever be discovered.
“This is a debt that the state owes not only to Jineth Bedoya but the hundreds of victims of La Modelo prison and the paramilitary forces,” Bedoya added.
Even without the murder and dismemberment, investigations have found conditions within Colombian prisons absolutely horrendous. Toilet and bathing areas are reportedly filthy, and running water is only available to inmates for four hours every day.
Who do you think is responsible for killing more than 100 individuals and stashing their body in the sewer?
[Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images]