Friday, September 30, 2011

Colombian Drug Trafficking

Steve and his team of artists have continued the process of conducting research and interviews for the BOGOTÁ PRISON PAGEANT at the national women's prison in Bogotá, Colombia. The women are in prison for many different reasons, but one of the more prevalent crimes is that of drug trafficking. In the movie "Maria Full of Grace," the mulas (women trafficking drugs - mules is the literal translation) swallow the cocaine in packages made of condoms. It seems that this method no longer works, since anyone suspected of carrying drugs is x-rayed at the airport.  Now the traffickers have ways of blending the cocaine into clothing, shoes, whatever. You can open a suitcase and everything looks perfectly normal, but then you'll find that all of the fabrics are actually made of drugs. Most of the mulas are paid and know what they're doing, but it does seem that some are tricked into carrying drugs. Apparently, one tactic in international trafficking is to send a group of mulas to the airport at the same time and set one of them up to get caught who is either knowingly or unknowingly carrying a smaller amount of drugs. The narcos pay off the police and the airport, and the set-up mula gets arrested with the smaller amount. The other mulas who've got the bulk of the stash pass through safely and fly off to deliver the goods.

In an interview with one of the mulas, she described this process to Steve and the artists, giving them one of their favorite lines:

"Cuando la policía detuvo, me sentía absolutamente ningún miedo. Solo pánico."

"When the police arrested me, I felt absolutely no fear. Only panic."

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