World's worst jail ran by cons armed with grenades – where gay prisoners are forced to live on roof & guards won't enter

GRENADE-toting gangsters have taken over Venezuela's biggest prison running market stalls selling crack cocaine, holding drug-fuelled raves and banishing gay inmates to live on the roofs.

The overcrowded jail is now so dangerous it has been totally abandoned by its guards and even armed state troops are too scared to enter and seize back control, a chilling new documentary reveals.

Wives, girlfriends and kids are allowed to come and go virtually as they please with bizarre Disney-themed parties, music festivals and raves held at the weekends .

La Causa, a new documentary from filmmaker Andrés Figueredo Thomson, gives a stark look at life inside inside the General Penitentiary of Venezuela (PGV) in Guárico State.

US-based Figueredo Thomson, who spent eight years making the worrying expose in his homeland, revealed he found the experience "incredibly overwhelming."

The29-year-old told Reason: "Seeing inmates with weapons with grenades, the smell…literally excrement coming from the walls. Absolutely deplorable conditions.

"It was like a war zone. A post apocalyptic thing. To see children going in and out of the prison…being around guns.

"There was a guy selling crack with a baby in his arms."

The prison – like others in the South American country – isgoverned by criminal gangs led by a "pran" (kingpin) who enforces a strict code governing every day life.

Those that break the "rules" are shot by ruthless enforcers called 'Watchmen' using stolen police guns customised to order in special jailhouse workshops.

The documentary takes its name from 'The Cause' which is the tax that the prison overlords collect from inmates to purchase the goods – both legal and illegal – which are bussed into the facility.

Those that don't cough up are sent to The Church – both a place of worship and a kind of debtors' prison-within-a-prison, reports news website

Figueredo Thomson amazingly revealed the kingpins have actually made the jail SAFER as prisoners know they will be severely punished if they step out of line.

He said: "They have brought some sort of order out of the chaos."

The film maker told how the filthy prison has separate college-style "frats" which inmates are allowed to joining depending on how "cool" they are deemed.

The prisoners are split into three categories on arrival by the prison's "micro dictatorships"- called 'thugs', 'evangelicals' and 'renegades.'

"Thugs are the people who are the free-ist inside the prison.. they can walk wherever they want to. They can smoke weed and do drugs in the prison.

"The evangelicals, if they are walking about, have to have a bible in their hands and wear a tie and they are also in charge of cleaning the prison and are also in charge of cooking.

"The renagades – the ones who are worst off – are like the prisoners within prison."

La Causa also shows how the prison is also home to a bizarre menagerie of terrifying wild animals – including monkeys and big cats.

The prison population in Venezuela has exploded in recent years after President Nicolas Maduro started jailing people for even minor offences.

Human rights activists say almost 70 per cent of the inmates in the PGV are being held in pre-trial detention.

And things are not much better elsewhere in the crime-plagued country .

Just last month, prisoners were forced to kill a Rottweiler for food to fight off starvation, the human rights NGO Venezuelan Prisons Observatory (OVP) revealed.

They were reportedly forced to kill the canine as they were “dying from hunger,” receiving just bread and the occasional meal from prison authorities.

The incident took place at the El Libertador prison facility in Hombre Nuevo, Carabobo state.

Family members expressed concern at the severity of the punishment they may receive for killing the dog.

“The people in the prison know that what they have is hunger and they punish them inhumanly,” one of the relatives said.

“What they did with that animal is wrong but hunger is serious; especially if they have gone a long time without eating a full meal. Now they won’t even give them the rice that they distribute to everyone.”

And in May, an apparent lack of food and water was blamed for a prison riot at Llanos Penitentiary in the western city of Guanare which left 40 dead.

Casualties included the prison warden, who was stabbed and a national guard officer, who was injured in a grenade explosion.

Last year, the OVP revealed that more than 7,000 people have died in the country’s prison facilities since in 1998 – one of the highest figures worldwide.

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