• Panama Human Rights

Torture, ill-treatment of inmates at La Joya Prison Panamá. Murder, punishment, drugs, corruption...

Updated: Nov 3, 2019

and hundreds of unseen videos and photos!

https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2016/wha/265604.htm



No medical leaves inmates with rotten teeth and having to resort to Cocaine, a screwdriver, and another inmate...


Most of the inmate population at the La Joya Penitentiary facility receive little or no medical attention, despite inmates’ pleas for dental treatment.

Panama blatantly flaunts its legal obligations and responsibilities in protecting and upholding the most basic human rights.

The video above is one of many showing violations by this and the previous governments, violations that are still happening today, all whilst Panamá sits on the human rights council, saying “it defends people’s human rights vigorously.”

Many detainees requested help but their pleas were left unanswered by the ones charged with their care

To Ambassador Ms Sylvia Casaratto Representing the Government of Canada to the Republic of Panama And Her Majesty's Ambassador Dr Ian Collard Representing the United Kingdom to the Republic of Panama And Their respective Consular Staffs

Madam and Doctor This document is a request to make a formal inquiry to the Executive Branch of the Republic of Panama to investigate the lack of compliance with the Laws and Accords on the part of the Civil Service of this Nation, in their dealings with; Presently incarcerated in La Joya Penitentiary since Aug 9, 2009 I present the following documents which have been written and ratified by the International Community to ensure the protection of Human Life and Rights thereof ;

United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners 1954 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Doc65, Dec2011

Defensora del Pueblo complaint to the Procuraduria of the Nation, filed in Nov 2013, as yet unanswered

Medicina Legal,  Forensic Medicine,  3 reports to the Systema enitenciario 2011, 2013, and 8Dec 2014

Law 55, Penitenciary Act and Derechos y Obligaciones de la Poblacion Penitenciaria distributed to all detainees

Constitution of the Republic of Panama, 1974, amended 2002 sentence passed by Judge Sanchez of the 17th court, 1 st Penal Circuit; stated as part of the sentence that the System Penitentiary will be responsible for making provisions for the care and treatment of my health as evidenced by the Medicine Legal report of 2011

His Excellency President Juan Carlos Varela,  before the recent Summit of the Americas, has proudly presented Panama as an example of compliance with Human Rights issues to the rest of the Americas.  It is my contention that the Civil Service of the Republic, principally the Directors of Prisons, La Joya Penitentiary, Penitentiary Health and the La Merced Clinic and their respective employees have failed to respect and work under the guidelines of each and every one of the Accords and Laws as cited above. Numerous requests for Medical attention and compliance, both of myself and Ms Debora de Herrara of the Canadian Embassy and recently by Ms AnaLorena Jones of the British Embassy have all but fallen on deaf ears. In fact, a general state of apathy has been our only response and since May 2014 a resistance by the Director of Health to approve private medical attention as is my right by law and their obligation by the same laws.

I feel that after almost six years of pleading with the authorities of the Penitentiary System, they are not inclined to provide medical treatment as required by the laws governing these situations.  Therefore; I request your formal presentation to His Excellency, President Varela and the Honorable Minister of Government, Milton Henriquez, responsible for the Penitentiary System, in order to apprise them of the failure of the Civil Service to conduct their administration according to National and International Standards with regard to the treatment of prisoners, the right to life and the preservation of such. Also, to cause an inquiry to the Procuraduria of the Nation as to why they have not responded to the complaint of the Defensora del Pueblo for such an inordinate amount of time, especially in consideration of the fact that this is dealing with a Human Life,  not a tangible.

The details of my medical issues are well documented in the Canadian Embassies file of complaints and consular reports made on my behalf. However, I believe that a brief review is warranted ; I suffer from Lung Disease,  previously diagnosed in Costa Rica by MRI and a lung camera. The prison service has been aware of this since the beginning of my detention, yet has refused me updated diagnosis and treatment. Medicine Legal in their 3 reports to the Sentencing Judge and the Prison Service concurs with the Costarrican diagnosis of fibered lungs resulting in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The fourth leading cause of death in North America, yet completely ignored by the Prison Medical staff. In fact on my last visit, 8 Dec 2014, I requested that the Doctor put a Stethoscope on my chest as I had been admitted on Emergency Service on the 17, June 2014 for chest pain. Which was the last visit I was able to acquire whereupon I was informed that my lungs and heart required attention, nothing was done beyond closing the file until my next visit which was Dec as stated? The attending Physician, when requested that he listen to my chest, informed me that he did not have a Stethoscope available, yet he did prescribe hypertension drugs, failing to take my blood pressure. But rather conveniently recorded a pressure of 140/90 on my chart. Hypertension drugs are counter-indicated with the use of Senemet which the Clinic has approved for Parkinson's Disease.

The Parkinson's was voluntarily diagnosed by Dr Arthur Porter,  a licensed physician in Canada, United Kingdom and the USA, with experience in Parkinson's Disease. This diagnosis was offered as the Doctor had observed my suffering over a good period of time and was aware that the La Merced Clinic and the Director of Health were not taking any investigative steps. The clinic readily approved his diagnosis and three separate Doctors of the Clinic have written prescriptions for treatment based on his diagnosis. However, the Director of Health refuses to acknowledge this diagnosis, has refused in the past requests for Neurological evaluation and presently refuses the request of the Canadian and British Embassies for private Neurological evaluation.

The Director, Dr a Karen Holder did finally approve an evaluation by a state Neurologist. This appointment, last August, ran for less than ten minutes including time for the collection of data, name, etc. It consisted of rolling my wrists and ankles while chained and manacled, walking approximately four meters and an inspection of my tongue. Upon which she stated that I did not have Parkinson's but most likely a Thyroid problem. The Doctor issued me with a further prescription for Senemet, which is only used for Parkinson's Disease. Also an order for a Thyroid exam and if that was negative I would require a Brain Scan. Nothing more was done about this, no resulted were produced. It was a waste of time. I presented a list of observed and possible symptoms to the Doctor, who could even be bothered to read them.

The Heart Murmur has remained without evaluation since last June 2014, even though the attending physician stated that he would list an Xray and Cardiograph as urgent.

I believe that I am correct in stating that the Penitentiary System of Panama has imposed on me a sentence far beyond that of which I was sentenced by the Judicial System. Not only have they failed to observe the order of the Sentencing Judge, but they have quite likely caused a significant reduction in my Life Expectancy of perhaps 10- 15 years considering the deterioration in my health these past six years. That imposes on me an approximate 20-year sentence and if I were to serve the remaining 30 months in this prison perhaps a sentence of Death. The death sentence, by any means, has been abolished in Panama by virtue of it's Constitution. This is absolutely unacceptable!

I feel somewhat prejudiced by the facts that the medical and penitentiary system is well aware of the Defensora del Pueblo complaint to the  Procuraduria, as it is prominently stapled to the inside cover of my Medical file and their awareness of an impending Transfer of Prisoners, known as repatriation. This repatriation was applied for originally in Canada and acknowledged by Corrections Canada during Feb. Of 2013, approved by Panama the 12 the of Nov 2013 with a Canadian investigation completed and submitted to the Honourable Minister of Public Safety, Mr Steven Blaney, on the 3 rd of July 2014. Where it has remained to await his signature of approval or rejection, as required by the guidelines, for the past eleven months. This was a Humanitarian request based on my age and state of health.

For that reason, a repatriation request was transferred to the United Kingdom anticipating repatriation within four months which expired this past February. The indication is that Panama requires the process to be restarted. This would cause a further delay of approximately ten months in Panama plus approval time in the United Kingdom.

I now, therefore, am not very interested in being repatriated to either country as an in-custody prisoner for the following reasons;

The policy of the Penitentiary System in Panama is to release prisoners of demonstrated good conduct at two-thirds of their sentence. This is applicable to Panamanian Nationals and some Aliens of whom can demonstrate family ties in Panama. I, with no ties here in this country, have completed two-thirds of my sentence and in the words of the current Director of La Joya represent no threat to society and should not be detained here. Yet, I am ineligible.

The Constitution of the Republic of Panama guarantees me, as an alien, the fundamental rights of equality, obligations and benefits before the law equal to all Nationals without discrimination. However, a subsection negates these fundamental rights in favour of special circumstances of concern to the government. Which in this case would be the Immigration Act subjecting my rights as afforded me by the Constitution. I and many others are therefore condemned to serving every last day of our sentence in custody of the Prison Authorities. This, I believe, is a contradiction to the spirit of the law and other accords as presented.

The Constitution further states that the State and particularly the Penitentiary System are responsible for protecting the health of those it governs and to rehabilitate health concerns where necessary, obligated to preserve the physical, mental and moral state of its charges. The Constitution continues to state that Public Officials of whom neglect to administrate the law or of whom are derelict in their duty are liable before the law. This I believe is the case here.

During my time here in prison, I have not wasted my time nor have I wasted the resources of the Government by enrolling in their rehabilitation program of grades one through six simply to acquire credit time off of my sentence. By my own initiative,  I have used my time and previous knowledge as an Architectural Designer and Builder to increase my technical knowledge. Which has enabled me, along with an Electrical Engineer, to design a system of waste management? This system will clean wastewater, provide potable water for reuse and generate an excess of electricity. I have received much interest by legitimate financial concerns in order to complete and manufacture this product.

President Varela, an Industrial Engineer by vocation, would find this very interesting as it addresses three major concerns confronting his present tenure.

Although this has not been an approved rehabilitation project, I would like to be recognised for having taken the initiative to become a contributing member of society once more.

Therefore, I would request of you as Ambassadors of our respective nations, to call upon the Executive Officers of this Nation. Principally his Excellency The President o Panama and The Honourable Minister of Government to apprise them of this grave situation and seek a remedy.

I personally request the favour of this Government and request that the Honourable Members commute my sentence in compensation for good behaviour, initiative and the suffering to which I have been subjected to at the hands of Prison and Medical Civil Servants. So that I may immediately seek competent Medical assistance.

As my case is very clear both in this request and the historic files within your respective offices, I respectfully request your reply within fifteen days. If you feel that this Humanitarian request does not fall within your mandate, please inform me in writing along with your reasoning within the same period of time.

Thank you for your time and kind consideration

I give an oath that the statements contained within are true to the best of my ability and perception. Dated the Fourteen of May 2015.   In Panama Respectfully, Enclosures: *Subsections of cited documents *La Joy a Doc. Feb 2015 TVN-2 - http://www.tvn-2.com/Paginas/Default.aspx La Realidad del Centro penitenciario La Joya - http://www.tvn-2.com/Noticias/Paginas/la-realidad-del-centro-penitenciario-la-joya-.aspx La Joya Penitentiary Doc, Feb 2015

OHCHR Regional Office for Central America was established in Panama City, Panama, Following the signature of an agreement between OHCHR and the Government of Panama on 15 February 2007.


Panama's jails host nearly 7,000 prisoners who have not been duly tried and convicted - It's A Human Right To Have A Fair Trial


Panama's jails host nearly 7,000 prisoners who have not been duly tried and convicted, due to slow judicial process, the country's Interior and Justice Ministry said Wednesday. A total of 11,532 people, including 10,776 men and 756 women, are kept in jail, but only a third of them have had a proper trial. Women's jails have better infrastructure and female prisoners have access to rehabilitation workshops. "We must improve Panama's jail infrastructure, which has become obsolete and is too small for the nation's large jail population," Panama's Justice Minister Daniel Delgado Diamante told a press conference following a jail search in which knives, guns, drugs and cell phones were seized. Terrible conditions have led to jailbreaks, often with the help of guards who were either bribed or threatened. Panama's most recent jailbreak happened in La Joya Jail, a high-security penitentiary for foreign drug dealers.


Two Justice Officials Arrested For Trying To Smuggle Pistol Into La Joya


Two government officials who work for the Judiciary were arrested for attempting to bring a 9 mm pistol and 32 rounds of ammunition into the La Joya prison, according to information provided in a news conference. Eduardo Serracín, the Deputy Director of the National Police, the two people who were arrested are "notifiers" who were carrying the gun in an envelope that was discovered when they were searched. Since it is normal for people working in this position to visit the prison and to have direct contact with the inmates, it is possible they might have done the same thing at an earlier time. In the same prison, yesterday, two other people were arrested for trying to introduce drugs into the prison - two bags each with a half kilo of marijuana - as well as cell phones and USB cables, inside of a truck that was supposed to be carrying merchandise to be sold at the kiosk. (La Critica)


Click image below to view in full:



US State Department on Panamá

https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2016/wha/265604.htm

Administration: The computerized system installed to update and ensure accurate information on all inmates, including biographical data on inmates, their legal status, and information related to rehabilitation programs in which they participated, remained inaccessible to prosecutors at the Attorney General’s Office, legal authorities of the judiciary, and the judicial investigative directorate within the National Police. During the year the penitentiary system’s new Office for Special Projects installed more sophisticated software to allow interagency access, but as of August, the software was not fully functional.

Corruption and a lack of accountability among the police continued to be a problem, though the government took steps to address violations. Thirty-two agents were dismissed on corruption grounds and were under investigation by the Public Ministry. The agents included a police captain and a lieutenant arrested in August along with 11 others for allegedly falsifying prisoners’ records and altering criminal sentences as well as former civilian agents from the penitentiary system who allegedly charged up to 70,000 balboas ($70,000) to assist gang members to leave prison early.

The penitentiary system continued to apply a policy of “two-for-one” reduction in time served, in which two days’ work and/or study resulted in a one-day reduction in the time remaining on the sentence. Prisoners could submit complaints to judicial authorities without censorship and request investigation of credible allegations of inhuman conditions, but authorities did not make the results of such investigations public. The Ombudsman’s Office negotiated and petitioned on behalf of prisoners and received complaints about prison conditions. The Ombudsman’s Office continued to conduct weekly prison visits to prisons in Panama City and Colon and, twice a year, to prisons elsewhere in the country. The government generally did not monitor its meetings with prisoners.

https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2016/wha/265604.htm

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted prison monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers. The Roman Catholic NGO Justice and Peace visited the two prisons in David, Chiriqui. The NGO reported overcrowding and corrupt behaviour by prison officials, which included smuggled weapons, cigarettes, and cell phones for the inmates. Human rights NGOs wishing access to the prisons during fixed visiting hours must send a written request to the National Directorate of the Penitentiary System 15 days in advance.

Pretrial Detention: The government regularly imprisoned inmates under the inquisitorial system for more than a year before a judge’s pretrial hearing, and in some cases, pretrial detention exceeded the minimum sentence for the alleged crime. As of July according to government statistics, 66 per cent of prisoners were pretrial detainees. Some criticized the judiciary for applying unequal pretrial restrictive measures for individuals facing substantially similar charges.


Sign here to say you have worked, and I will give you three years off your sentence. $600!












Nowhere in the world except Panamá can you freely walk into the La Joya penitentiary administration offices, take a thick important file like you see below. To get this file you have to know people, once the file is obtained it has to pass 4 police security checkpoints before it enters building six, then the on-duty guard should screen everyone entering. Not in Panamá!

There are many other ways prisoners gain early release that is totally undetected by the system. Later, Panama human rights will look at medicals way that is used for early release.

The administration offices within the La Joya facility were, and are still not happy in transitioning over to the computerised system as it would hinder the administration's cartel, and in turn, stop the corruption of detainees buying early release.

The administration has many folders of detainees who worked Internationals & Panamanians within in the prison facility, prisoners would be eligible for early release upon serving 2/3 of their sentence, the prisoners must have worked in a capacity that would have saved the government from outsourcing labour to be entitled to early release.

The administration team would enter prison workers names into the file, but leave two lines between each name; this gave the administration the opportunity to fill in names between the lines as and when a prisoner could afford the $600 fee.

The administration had only a limited number of early releases to sell, totalling about 10 in one calendar year, the custodial of this treasure was the director himself “Ronaldo Lopez”.

The video below shows the inmate signing his initials confirming he had worked alongside other inmates, in doing so he was now eligible for early release. After the amount was paid to the director he would then sign for him to be freed.

The folder in the footage should have never left the administration building but ended up in building six because of corrupt officials and police checkpoints between building six and the administration building, who failed to inspect any prisoners with neck lanyards issued by Lopez.

Shown in the footage is the official stamp (seal) of the La Joya penitentiary facility confirming that the folder was from the legal administration offices.


13 arrests in “tainted” prison system

THE THIRD major corruption network within a year in Panama’s justice and custom’s systems has been disrupted.

The latest was in the prison system which Interior Minister Milton Henriquez, described as “tainted and corrupt,”

He was speaking on Wednesday, August 10 after announcing the dismantling of a network in the country’s prisons, used to alter the court judgments of falsifying release tickets and manipulate the transfer of prisoners.

Henriquez, along with Attorney General, Kenia Porcell; and the assistant AG, Marcelino Aguilar; detailed searches and operations that led to the arrest of 13 people allegedly linked to the network: four civilians, four staff, three former officials of the Ministry of Government and two prisoners.

Porcell said the band was engaged in collecting money for illegal acts and to swindle the families of prisoners.

Aguilar said there will be more arrests, as the techniques granting conditional freedoms to detainees are investigated.

“Operation Confinement” was executed by the Public Ministry, the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) and the Directorate General of the Prison System of the Ministry of Government (MINGOB).

The network entered the database of the Directorate General of Prisons to alter and reduce sentences of prisoners.

Arrests were made in La Joya, and La Joyita prisons, the Women’s Rehabilitation Center Orillac Cecilia Chiari, Nueva Esperanza prison in Colon and in some homes and offices of people allegedly linked to the network.


Six years in hell hole awaiting trial


LAST WEEK’S revelations of a criminal network operating inside Panama’s prison system to manipulate prison sentences, paroles and transfers combined with ongoing exposures of a flawed judiciary, are adding dark brush strokes to the image of a country already shaken by the Panama Papers and Waked family scandals.

Meanwhile visiting journalists have identified another dark blister on the country’s underbelly, which goes largely unrecognized in Panama as the people affected do not belong to the hierarchy that can afford well-heeled lawyers to get them bail or country arrest, or stage demonstrations on their behalf.

A report that has circled the world appeared among others in London’s Daily Mail. It reads:

Panama was thrust into the limelight when documents leaked from a local law firm [Mossack Fonseca] exposed offshore financial dealings of the world’s rich and famous.

Since then, France has said it will blacklist Panama, Iceland’s prime minister has stepped down over the revelations and Panama’s government has vowed to share tax information with other nations to prevent evasion.

But problems with Panama’s legal system run much deeper.

As Panama reels from outrage at legal loopholes that help the world’s wealthy hide their cash, inmates at the capital’s La Joya prison are paying a heavy price for flaws elsewhere in the Central American nation’s justice system.

Housed in makeshift cells because of heavy overcrowding, living in grimy conditions and with limited medical attention, many prisoners languish for years without being sentenced.




La Joya is known throughout the police force as the grazing ground for many police officers prior to retiring to pasture, many had served their junior years under General Norigega, many are to this day still faithful to his beliefs. In a conversation with one specific police commando “Saregntie Rodriguez” on 24/11/13, who despises the Martinelli & Varela government with a passion, he told me that he was incarcerated for 5 years after the overthrow of Panama, and still has an axe to grind for the wrongs he believes was done to him, these types of officers who work today have no allegiances to neither Martinelli or Varela governments, they just look at their job as an opportunity to scam inmates as a way to earn income by waiting for the few months left before retiring.


Téngase, además, como sujetos denunciados a las siguientes personas:

En la Cárcel de La Palma:

Gallardo – Sargento

Víctor Rodríguez – Custodio


Justo Marcial – Fiscal de Circuito con sede en Darién.

Oficiales de la Policía Nacional, en la Joya:

Aguilla – Sub Teniente


Arrocha – Sub Teniente


Arrocha – Sargento 1°


Castillo – Sub Teniente


Duncan Trotman – Sargento


Escala – Sargento 2 °


Espinosa – Sargento 2°


Falcon – Sargento 1°


Huerta - Teniente


J. Braham Teniente


J. Espinosa - Sub Comisionado


J. Rodriguez


J. Solis – Sargento


Vasquez-Sub Teniente


Jimenez – Sargento 1°


Jorge Escobar – Sub Comisionado


S. Rivera Sargento 1 °


Santa Maria – Teniente


E. Arauz


G. Monroy


J. Guerra


The ABCs of smuggling arms, drugs, and ammunition into La Joya




In Cell B-11, the inmate’s kiosk is located on his top bunk, standing on his bed. It is then turned into his sleeping accommodation at night.


The items above are all prohibited but are for sale in Cell A-9, Building 6. All these items have passed through the police checkpoints unopened. These items often contained drugs and armour and were deliberately waved through, avoiding detection. This security breach is made possible by the corrupt National Police turning a blind eye and allowing these serious violations to take place under their watch.

All items should be screened and checked prior to entry into the penitentiary facility, like the visitors, who have to discard all manufacturers’ packaging and place every item into a transparent Zip-lock plastic bag, including toothpaste and washing powder. Visitors are not allowed to bring items like a toothbrush, but in shop A-9, they are readily available for those who can afford them, intact and unbroken.

Top left, a pack of “Ese” washing powder that can easily contain a revolver or a grenade. Hand soap often contains razor blades or packets of drugs. These all have the original packaging for concealment. Tins of sardines make fantastic weapons—an excellent means to slit the throat of a police commando stupid enough to let them in.



Being the penitentiary is so strict on prohibited items such as tinned foods, we at panamahumanrights.com would like to know how and why on 15 September 2013 did the catering kitchens of La Joya supply 477 inmates with tinned sardines, completely sealed, without a ring-pull lid. The sardines were accompanied by two salt biscuits as shown below:

Inmates were totally bemused and totally stunned, but within minutes of the delivery, 477 homemade knives appeared and were in action.



The police use visitors as a guide, to take advantage of not being detected; items that you can acquire on the streets of Panamá are readily available at a price inside the La Joya facility.

The video below is from a local news station based in Panamá, where visitors are protesting about being treated as criminals and accused as the perpetrators of the smuggling operation. Many visitors are invasively inspected, including children, humiliated at the expense of those who are the true perpetrators and villains, yet until now, these criminals, the National Police, have never been exposed or tried for their crimes.



Victor is a pleasant guy, along with his pet, a huge pitbull that follows him everywhere. Victor is a major player inside La Joya. Whatever you want, he can acquire it with the police and prison guards’ help, with ease.

To see his rank, look at his jewellery. You will see he is wearing at least $2,000 in gold. Any normal Joe would have died or lost their arms and head leaving his building with that much jewellery, but Victor is the top of his field when it comes to getting anything done for a fee. You can hear on the video, Victor is taking orders for everyone's Christmas liquor and ham requests.

The goods did arrive as agreed, four days after filming this shoot.

Panamanians and internationals were separated for their own safety, but the Panamanian National police thought otherwise and allowed Panamanian drug lords to enter Building 6, from where they could also gain verbal access to international prisoners in Building 8. The picture below is Victor walking freely in and around Building 6.

Special thanks to the Producer: Victor, and all the police who made it possible.





Are Visitors Prohibited from bringing in Lottery Tickets?


Here at panamahumanrights.com, we have the answers to all these crazy questions, and the answer to this one is a big fat NO, but if you are lucky enough to live in the west wing at Building 8, you can play the weekly national lottery, aired live every Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. There is one slight problem—what if you win?

The Panamanian inmates supplement their income by selling illegal lottery tickets inside La Joya at a highly inflated rate $1.50 over the face value. Many people did win $5, $50 & $100 but were unable to claim their winnings, unless they either jumped the fence or got a corrupt cop to go 50/50 with the winnings.




Families molested as they visit loved ones



The illegal items are not brought in by visitors due to extreme security. It would be near on impossible for a visitor to smuggle a revolver, a mirror, or a pair of reading glasses inside, but they do arrive on a daily basis by commercial trucks. The videos on this site will show you how requests are made to purchase illegal items by asking the police, high-ranking prisoners, and prison guards to provide that service.

To get prohibited items in is not down to just one police commando but many; all have to be in the cartel to wave these shipments through the many checkpoints along the way, starting with La Joyita, then travelling onto La Joya before the goods arrive at their final destination.



Many TV news channels report on La Joya’s arms and drug problem, but they never investigate why, how, and who brings these banned items in, until now. We at panamahumanrights.com can clearly prove that this current administration is at fault, not the visitors. The catalyst for the killings and violence that take place inside the La Joya complex are the police.



Prior to this current administration, Ricardo Martinelli owned a supermarket chain (Super 99). Many of its trucks delivered on a daily basis to the La Joya and La Joyita facilities. Today, Juan Carlos Varela’s liquor company, Ron Abuelo, travels the exact same route into the La Joya facility.




The cartels in charge of these operations are the police, prison guards and the director, including administrative staff. All have a vested interest in the money and are making huge profits on the premiums charged when the goods finally arrive in each building.


Bacardi purchased by a police commando Abram 23/12/2013 - Super 99, Chiriquí, then on display at the entrance of Building 6


The item’s purchase price was $8.65. After commissions and service charges, it was $110.00; the infantile officer left the receipt in the bag in error.




Visitors are vigorously searched at the entry gates to La Joya for illegal items, but Welch’s grape juice and sugar are allowed to passes freely totally undetected through the security screening process.

This flaw allowed multiple pops up distillery to be established within building 6 and the La Joya facility, these distilleries were mainly run by the Chinese located within the attic space above the cells, they fermented red wine out of these two products made wine within 20 days using 5 gallon buckets as storage tanks, once fermented the wine was then sold on for $7 a bottle.

Besides wine, inmates distilled and made moonshine to supplement their income so as to buy needy supplies like toiletries. Potential clients would test the calibre of the alcohol by pouring some of the liquid into a bottle cap, then lighting it to see if there was a flame, once this was achieved it was then bottled into discarded water bottles then sold for $10 a pop.

Seizures from raids at Building 6 & 9 La Joya penitentiary facility:



This practice was one of the elements that played a major role in Mark Bodden's death as he was intoxicated at the time of his death. The autopsy that was carried out in Panamá failed to divulge Mark’s blood count to the Caymanian authorities, despite the courts repeated requests in lobbying the Panamanian government they did not supply this vital information, as a result Caymanian court found it could not be confirmed that Mark’s death was an (Accident) and ruled his death as an (Open Verdict).

Besides the prison inmates getting in on the lucrative band waggon in opening distilleries inside the La Joya penitentiary facility, the President of Panamá himself now has serious competition on his hands with his own brand being undersold inside La Joya, being the President's family owns the Panamanian national brand Ron Abuelo. The inmates did have an ace up their sleeve as the production time for Ron Abuelo took 7 to 15 Years to complete, whereas for the inmates it was only a 20 day turn around.

We at Panamá human rights.com would like to think that maybe theses inmates talent’s in liquor making, rather than doing schooling for 1/3 off your sentence has paid off, who knows if this bottle of La Joya Tequila was the brainchild of a Mexican inmate from building 6.


Open verdict on Caymanian prisoner’s death in Panamá

An inquest was held last week into the death of a Caymanian inmate serving a prison term in Panama who died after reportedly falling off a bunk bed at the jail. Queen’s Coroner Eileen Nervik conducted an inquest on Thursday into the death of Mark Philip Bodden, who died in Panama on Aug. 18, 2014.

She described the inquest as rather unique, given the circumstances and limited information. After considering the information that was available, jurors returned an open verdict – meaning that the evidence was insufficient for them to reach any other conclusion. They also found that the cause of death was unknown.

Mr Bodden, 37, died at the Panama Caledonia Hospital in Santo Tomas, Republic of Panama. He had been taken there from the Pacora La Joya Penitentiary, after been injured, reportedly in a fall from the bunk bed.

The coroner explained that the inquest was being held because Mr Bodden’s body was repatriated to Cayman and the family had requested an investigation and a second post-mortem examination, if possible.

The only witness to give evidence in person was government pathologist, Dr. Shravana Jyoti. Jurors were given copies of the report written after an autopsy was performed in Cayman by pathologist Michaele Enghardt on Sept. 5, 2014.

Dr Jyoti explained that an autopsy had already been performed in Panama, but a complete report from that procedure was not available. Cayman authorities did receive a post-mortem form from Panama’s National Directorate of Civil Registry. It listed causes of death to be edema and brain haemorrhage, and severe head trauma, with pneumonia being a contributing factor.

Background information given to the pathologist was that Mr Bodden had reportedly suffered a fall in his cell, but additional verifiable information was not available. A hospital record was not available.

Dr Enghardt did not make a finding as to cause of death, but she did comment on the cause as found in Panama. She said a small amount of coagulated blood in the cranial cavity might allude to a prior haemorrhage event. A very thorough examination of the head showed no external marks of trauma or lacerations. There was no evidence of a skull fracture and no trauma to the neck. Dr Jyoti listed other specific findings and said strangulation could be ruled out and being hit in the head with a blunt object could be ruled out. Fingernails were intact, which meant they were not damaged in any defensive action.

Jurors then heard the statements of two police officers, as read by the coroner. This information had to do with the liaison between the Deputy Governor’s office in Cayman and the British Embassy in Panama, the translation of documents from Spanish to English, the process by which Mr Bodden’s body was brought back to Cayman, examined and then released for burial.

The coroner then explained the possible verdicts the jury could reach, such as natural causes, misadventure, suicide, lawful or unlawful killing. One of the jurors asked about a finding of negligence. The coroner emphasized that an inquest is a public fact-finding inquiry and not a trial; the jurors’ role was to find facts as to the physical cause and manner of death, not to accord blame.

It was up to them as to whether they accepted the findings of the autopsy performed in Panama, she said. If they did not, they could say the cause of death was unknown. If the cause was unknown, they might ask themselves how they could know the manner of death, she observed.

Cayman authorities had worked diligently to get more information from Panama, she noted but was unsuccessful. “We did try,” she told jurors before they considered their verdict.


A special thanks to Sergeant Solis for the Mcdonald's delivery


A special thanks to Sergeant Maria for the many memory chips on which he was recorded, and the Mas-Movil phone chips. Saludos to you, sir!


Tracking these numbers back to the Mas Movil store show they were purchased by the police officer Maria.


An example of the cartel’s monopoly: Bottle of Clorox (bleach) on Panamá’s streets costs 69¢; inside it costs $3.00. This type of price gouging is what helps the police and other officials subsidise their low wages, and it encourages the devastating events inside La Joya, with deadly consequences. Ice trucks are also a great method of smuggling, no police officer ever inspected the 1000 bags of ice strapped to a pallet entering the facility.

The burden of proof, corruption exists:

The cartel has a total monopoly on goods entering the penitentiary facility. This being the case, a trap was set to see if a cartel truly did exist. A written request was duly made for items to the Director, Ronaldo Lopez, for basic humanitarian items: Clorox, hand soap, powdered milk, reading glasses, toothpaste, vitamins, washing powder, and more. The request was submitted 17 October 2013 and sent personally to the director for his approval by an attorney. Surprisingly enough, not one item on the list was approved, as they would not have benefited the cartel or the pocket of Ronaldo Lopez. If money were paid to the director, all items on the list would have been approved, but what was the point? Anyone could walk to Cell A-9 and buy the exact same items in unopened packaging. The only drawback was that it cost three times the street value, but after you had paid Lopez his fee, it worked out about the same as Shop A-9.


Vitamins are an essential part of a human’s right to a good quality of health and wellbeing. All vegetables and fruit were banned items, and many health issues arose due to poor nutrition, and this spread throughout the La Joya and La Joyita facilities. Below is a pop-up pharmacy based in Building 6 that thrived on corrupt commandos and corrupt Panamanians selling stolen medication, including vitamins, to the stool holder, Mike, who runs this chemist. He priced his products out of the reach of any normal inmates; only those fortunate enough could afford his medication.






For the record: Mike’s pop-up chemist does sell condoms, but does not sell, or supply cocaine. This you have to acquire outside the building in Building 15 or 5 adjacent.

Contact: Raul - Building #6 (507)-6709-2252 or via WhatsApp.

Sometimes the police commando may carry a baggie or two of coke—best to check with Raul before asking, as you might get an extra few years for asking a police officer.


Building 6 is a potential fire hazard waiting to happen. It has not been inspected or issued with a fire marshal’s certificate as should be the case with all public buildings. A request was submitted below for items in case of fire did break out so lives could be saved. Items Requested: smoke detector with batteries and a fire extinguisher. Also within the request were international newspapers and a battery-operated radio, and these were also denied, even though they are allowed under the penitentiary rules.





The cartel had a total hold overall prohibited items. Pawnbrokers popped up within the facility offering for sale or rent-restricted items like desk fans. The picture below is a poster that was on open view within the main hall, offering restricted items from Cell #1 that included Blockbuster rental service and pornographic DVDs. Surprisingly enough, when the police did raid Building 6, none of the prohibited items was ever seized or removed from Cells #1 or #9. How did the most recent titles enter, and by whom? This video store has over 600 rental titles, all for rent at a $1 per day. Today the prisoners are hoping that one day a pop-up launderette might appear, or a locksmith.




Cigarettes are prohibited to all visitors but are legal once inside, but only Viceroy cigarettes are allowed; all other brands are prohibited, like Marlboro and Camel. Inmates are not allowed to have cartons; individual packets are permissible, but owning a lighter is illegal. Being these items are illegal for visitors to bring in, how did they enter? And who determined the black market value? Cigarettes sell for six to eight times the face value; this is another example of the black market cartel scams that breed corruption within the ranks.


It is prohibited for all police officers to smoke whilst on duty, but this officer below flaunts the rules and is willing to coerce inmates for cigarettes in return for outside exercise. The officer does not confiscate the contraband at the main entry gates of La Joya, even though it is a prohibited item for visitors. The video below shows a TV investigative reporter being patted down by a police commando whilst the officer asks him if he has any cigarettes in his possession. Little does he know, they are readily available on the other side of Checkpoint # 3 in Cell A-9.


Besides the police flaunting many of the rules, it is a common practice for them to harass inmates to provide them with such items as cigarettes. Below is just another occasion where a police commando is asking for a pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) and a lighter to be thrown over the perimeter fence to the tower where he was posted. Throwing items into a prison is illegal, but throwing contraband out with the approval of a police commando is totally unheard of—the video speaks for itself.


















Lighters are prohibited! A police commando sits just feet away from these burning embers whilst we cook a crocodile that was captured.


Tropicana-Hawaiian BBQ Event - Building 8


Free-Flowing Air Is a Human Right


The British Embassy did try to bring in a fan that was a restricted item under the cartel’s list of banned items. The embassy requested in writing, prior to visiting, by asking Ronaldo Lopez to approve the entry of a 9” desk fan that was imperative for free-flowing air. This request was originally accepted, but on the day Ronaldo Lopez retracted his approval, he did allow two other fans to enter. Lopez was paid commission in advance directly by two British inmates, Ben and Leo.

This refused fan was purchased by an embassy employee and was handed over to the consul for delivery. Upon the refusal of this fan, the embassy made no effort in lobbying the director asking as to why this fan was denied but did concede that some type of corruption had taken place.


Embassy official standpoint on goods entering La Joya

Many visitors of all ages who come to see loved ones at La Joya facility on a bi-weekly basis were subjected to extremely invasive searches, ranging from a pat-down to a total strip search, including a full inspection of both passages. This was a totally degrading experience for all, especially for Indians, some of who were pregnant. Most visits Indians were racially profiled and segregated from the rest of the crowd for extra screening; this type of racially motivated screening took place on a regular occurrence and was totally unacceptable.

Many visitors still ran the gauntlet to come and see loved ones, despite the barbaric treatment by the National Police of Panama, who need to be held accountable and punished for these inhumane and invasive inspections that still take place today unsupervised by the Defensora Del Pueblo.

Women were denied access if they were showing any signs of nursing and given no explanation by the National Police as to the refusal. Many visitors had travelled hours if not days to be at the gates of La Joya six hours before a guaranteed entry. Most visitors lived far away in rural areas and were financially restricted. They had saved for many weeks if not months to make the journey, only to be told to go home with all their items.

The humiliating and degrading treatment is systemic within the National Police. Prisoners’ family members are treated equally to those who have been convicted, with no compassion nor respect for their humanity.

The treatment of civilians, including embassy staff, is apparent when the British Embassy refused to visit British nationals in La Joya prison due to the Panamanian Nationals Police’s aggressive behaviour.


Chocolates had to be unwrapped upon the visitor’s arrival. Bars of soap and toothbrushes were broken in half. All these items could be purchased inside A-9, or through the British Embassy, intact.

Reading glasses, mouthwash, nail clippers, international newspapers, sealed cans of food, fruit, vegetables, fresh chickens, protective eyewear (sunglasses)—all were denied, but the fresh chicken could be acquired with the help of the National Police. They allowed a wheelbarrow loaded with chicken that had been stolen from the prison kitchens unencumbered passage past three checkpoints. The chicken was for sale to the highest bidder who could afford it.



Visitors were ransomed to pay for the rental of specific coloured T-shirts to allow them entry into the facility. All visitors had to rent these items from the National Police at a cost of $1.00, payable only in cash. After that, they dug into their pockets again to pay another $1.50 for the two-minute bus ride to take them inside the prison facility itself. No one knows where all this money ends up, considering hundreds if not thousands of visitors are arriving on a daily basis. The La Joya and La Joyita facilities hold 15,766 inmates; the amount of money taken on a daily basis would have been an astronomical sum, and totally unaccountable considering all transactions were made in cash. Knowing the police track record for corruption begs the question of whether these transactions were documented or even accounted for!


La Joya allows family visits every four months, but if you are an international with no family in Panama—with only one good friend and his family—you are denied the right to a visit because he is not classed as family. If the friend did turn up with his family, he would be automatically refused at the gate, leaving the inmate without contact for the full term of his sentence, and that could be up to 10 years in isolation.


For sale: Assorted un-opened box of 30 sealed chocolate bars for sale within Building 6



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