Five years in hell – Hungarian drug smugglers in the prisons of Peru
by András NOVÁK, Reporter
A real drug smuggler gave an exclusive interview to GLOBS magazine. Krisztián spent five years in prison, from where he got out recently. Almost three dozens of Hungarian drug smugglers are currently imprisoned in Peru. Krisztián was approached by two men in Budapest six years ago, who offered him a quick way of making money. They told him that if he took home a bag from South America, he would be rewarded with 5000 dollars, in other words more than one million forints.
- I was only told that I had to go to a foreign country, do some work there and that’s all. But I told them that I wanted to hear the truth so they told me that I had to collect a bag and come home. Of course they didn’t tell me what was in the bag, but I could guess it. They promised me five thousand dollars if I managed to smuggle the bag home, but they would only give me the money after I handed over the bag to the right person.
He flew out, got the bag full of cocaine, but he was arrested at the airport right away.
- I went there, a lady asked for my passport and went back to the office, where she spent a suspiciously long time. She came back 10-15 minutes later with a picture depicting me. I knew that it was the end for me.
That was when the nightmare started. He got into the cruellest prison of Peru, Piedras Gordas known for inhuman conditions.
- You could get hold of everything in this prison: drug, weed, crack, heroine, weapons – if you had money. A drug-addict can buy a small stone called crack and smoke it in a pipe for five cents there, but you can easily get killed for these five cents…however, if you pay fifty cents, you’ll make the dealer the happiest man in the prison. All of this stuff is brought in by the guards. If not the guards, then the members of a strong mafia. The prison I was in is controlled by the two biggest mafias, who control everything, even the director of the prison. They bring in their products whether or not they get assistance. If someone resists or a guard objects, he gets punished. Once there was a new guard in the prison and he caught a boy who was smuggling in drugs. He didn’t want to let him in so he was beaten up quite badly, his family was done in by the next day and they told him that he was the next.
The prisoners have to survive a war to the death behind the bars…
- One time we went out to the gym with another Hungarian guy, and I wanted to go and get something but he told me to wait a little. Meanwhile an English guy went out before me, we were one metre behind him, but as the guy stepped out the gate, someone knifed him in the stomach. He fell to the ground before my legs, he was moaning, I was completely shocked but the other Hungarian guy quickly pulled me away from the door. Just think about it, if I was to go out first, it would’ve been me the one who got killed.
The cruellest criminals and mafia leaders of South America are kept in the prison. Human life means nothing in this place.
Krisztián: Imagine a huge cell where you’re caged with fifty criminals. They have fun by setting the blankets of those who fall asleep on fire and laugh at them while they’re shouting. And the guards beat the victims up instead of helping them.
You can also buy weapons in these prisons if you have enough money.
Krisztián: They smuggle in everything. Someone offered me a weapon for 200 dollars, so I could defend myself.
Krisztián was sentenced for six years and eight months for smuggling. The only thing that kept him alive was that he knew that his wife and children were waiting for him at home.
Krisztián: This is a special situation, because my wife was in her nine month in pregnancy when I left and she gave birth on the day I was arrested. So I didn’t know anything about the child, I only knew her name and I only had one photo of her. She was a baby back then, but luckily I have more photos of her now.
Krisztián has never met his younger daughter, who is five and a half years old now.
Krisztián: This is going to be the first time I meet her. To be honest, I’m very nervous, because even though I don’t know her, I love her very much. She is my daughter and I can’t wait to meet her, talk to her and make up for the past five years. It won’t be easy, but I have to try.
Mária Körömi works in Peru as the social worker of the Hungarian – Latin American Association and helps Hungarian prisoners survive the cruel conditions.
In the past years, she helped fourteen Hungarian prisoners survive the Peruvian hell.
Mária Körömi, social worker: Since they are foreigners, there’s no one to visit them. For instance, now, one of the prisoners is sick and there’s no one to help him with his medicine, but I can help with these things. I buy what they need, visit them, bring them packages. Their families send me money and sometimes we even get some support.
But let’s get back to Krisztián. He had started off to Hungary. The journey lasted for a couple of days. He is welcomed by his best friend at the Liszt Ferenc Airport. They haven’t seen each other for years. You can say that Krisztián is very excited, he’s been waiting for this moment for a long time. He saw awful brutality in the prisons of Peru. He says that murders and fights were regular. The majority of the guards were corrupt and if you didn’t have money, you had to sleep on the ground of the yard. Many times the guards even expected money for taking off someone’s handcuffs. You could only get any type of treatment if you had money. They never gave meat to the prisoners, usually oatmeal and rice was for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Krisztián: I’ve been waiting for this moment for five years, but now that it has come I’m trembling and I can’t believe that I’m finally at home. I’m going to kiss the ground straightaway.
Then he leaves to the city centre, where his kids are waiting for him. The moment they meet is truly touching. His older daughter was two years old when Krisztián was imprisoned, while this is the first time he meets his younger daughter. Krisztián’s daughter spent six years of her life without knowing her father. Even the journalist tears up when the six-year-old girl falls upon Krisztián’s neck while shouting “Dad, dad!”
Krisztián: I didn’t even know whether to cry or laugh, I only knew that I wanted to hug them and never let them go. It’s hard to describe this feeling after five years. I was waiting for this moment all along. But I still can’t describe how I feel. It’s like a dream, I have to bite myself. The little one calls me “dad”, for which I’m really happy since she had never seen me. This was the first time we met and I’m really happy that she considers me her father. This is all thanks to my wife, who told them about me and didn’t let them forget me.
The Hungarian – Latin American Association helped Krisztián get home. The President of the organisation is Sándor Balogh, who is also the president of the African-Hungarian Union.
President Sándor Balogh, Hungarian – Latin American Association:
One of the main activities of the Hungarian – Latin American Association aims to protect Hungarian young adults from getting imprisoned for drug smuggling, thus spending decades of their lives in prisons where human life isn’t worth a pin and where they have to go through sufferings we can’t even imagine.
In the opinion of the President of the association, Europeans are mostly roped in as dummies: They are only the baits, who get sacrificed so that big amounts of drug are smuggled through the border. We try to put an end to this with raising awareness since the opportunity of gravy – just like in the case of African frauds – can be enticing. This is why we try to attract attention to both the African an South American frauds and the issue of drug smugglers, thus unfolding the reality. As far as we know, currently 41 Hungarian drug smugglers are imprisoned in the different prisons of South America.
Krisztián wants to warn everyone enticed by the opportunity of gravy. Even though you’re offered three to eight thousand dollars for one case, East European smugglers are only roped in to be betrayed later on. The mafia uses them as dummies so that while the custom officers and policemen deal with them at the airport, the mafia can smuggle literally hundreds of kilograms of drug through the border behind their back.
It’s not worth it at all. I lost my family, my daughter, I had to wait six years to hug them. I don’t recommend anyone having a go at a business like this. Trust me, life in the prisons of Peru is the Hell itself.
Source: GLOBS Magazine