The Mick was busted with three kilos of cocaine soon after arriving in Colombia. He served four years in La Modelo, Bogota’s largest prison. His accomplices sent him money while he was inside to make his stay comfortable.
In prison Christopher made quick friends and became something of a celebrity as a foreigner and starting defenseman on his patio’s soccer team.
There was a carving industry in the prison. Inmates carved wood, stone and other items into buddha statues and other decorative works. One day a teammate offered to sell him a billiards cueball. Christopher had been thinking about learning to carve. He doesn’t remember this teammate’s name; we’ll call him Niche (Colombian slang for black guy). They settled on a price of 50,000 pesos. Niche was a great soccer player but also had a taste for bazuco, crack. Christopher estimates that Niche could get smoked out of his mind all night with that money.
La Modelo prison had a general mess hall with free food and also caspetes, inmate-owned and -managed restaurants. Although these caspetes weren’t great, Christopher had enough money that he never ate the “pitiful stuff” in the general mess hall.
The day after buying the cueball from Niche, Christopher went to eat in the caspete area. These places also had pool tables. Christopher was surprised to see one pool table empty of people. Nobody stood around the table, which had fifteen balls neatly racked – but no cueball.
Caspeteros (caspete managers) were the most powerful men in the prison. A few nervous days passed before the caspetero of that pool table asked Christopher about the cueball. Christopher lied, telling Caspetero that he’d sent it down to the carving section. He said he didn’t know it was stolen when he bought it, but it was already cut up now.
In the next days as the Caspetero followed up with the carving guys, Niche came to Christopher sweating and wearing five jackets. Inmates wore several jackets when they anticipated being stabbed. If a knife hit punctures five jackets, its force is reduced considerably before it hits skin, increasing the chances of survival.
Niche, on his knees and on the verge of tears, begged Christopher to give him back the ball. Christopher was angry. He told Niche he wouldn’t give him the ball, but he’d put it back on the table.
Niche begged for the ball, insisting he had to give it to Caspetero or he’d be killed. Christopher argued that he wanted to put the ball on the table himself, publicly. But Niche kept begging and crying until Christopher relented and gave the cueball back.
After a day or two Caspetero cornered Christopher in his cell with a knife. Christopher was surprised and scared. He insisted he already gave the cueball back to Niche. Caspetero threatened to stab him. Apparently, Niche sold the cueball again. And all this time, Caspetero was losing money from his billiards table.
Christopher convinced Caspetero he didn’t have the ball, and not to kill him, in no small part due to an agreement that he’d kill Niche.
Prisons in gringo countries have dozens of guards. But South American prisons are run by the inmates. For every thousand inmates, there may be a handful of guards. Hence a carving industry, widespread drug use, etc.
Caspetero assigned Christopher a sicario to help. The two took knives into the yard everyday for a week, looking for Niche. However, Colombian prison doesn’t have much structure. An inmate never has to leave his cell if he doesn’t want to. Christopher and Caspetero realized Niche was holed up somewhere and wasn’t coming out.
At this point, they could’ve tracked Niche down in his crackhead lair and killed him there, but they wanted to do it in public. They wanted to set a precedent – Caspetero because Niche stole his cueball, and Christopher because as a gringo in Colombian prison, he’d be perceived as an easy target.
Caspetero bribed a prison guard to find Niche, yank him from his hiding place, throw him into the yard and look the other way. It was done the same day.
Niche hit the yard in five jackets, clinging to the wall. Christopher says this is a common scene in Colombian prison. When somebody knows they’re going to get it, they stay against the wall. Walking sideways, looking from side to side, they know it’s coming but they don’t know from where or from who.
Christopher and Sicario ran in from opposite sides. Niche couldn’t put up the least resistance before taking stabbings from both sides. Blood flew as they pounded away with their knives on Niche’s chest, stomach, arms and shoulders.
Christopher estimates they stabbed him “29 times,” but the five jackets were preventing the knives from penetrating too deep so they kept stabbing and stabbing. They left Niche on the ground, hemorrhaging blood.
Niche survived the attack. Because of the jackets, the ~29 stab wounds amounted to little more than flesh wounds. He couldn’t move an inch in his infirmary bed, but he was alive.
Christopher learned from his best friend Tachuela that Niche was indeed alive in the Salón Rojo (Red Room, or infirmary). Tachuela was an up-and-coming prison sicario himself, taking contracts from outside and gaining respect in the prison.
Tachuela gave him the news over lunch. Christopher was stressed out. He didn’t want Niche to survive since, as he says, “There are no small enemies in the nick.” During their conference, Tachuela was moved to help. He volunteered to finish the job for free.
One night Tachuela slipped into the Red Room and cut Niche’s throat while he laid in bed. And it was over.
According to Christopher, Niche was in prison for raping, murdering and crucifying a young girl to her bedroom wall. Also found dead was the girl’s grandmother, presumed to have come home during the act. Niche was bound to get it somehow. It was just a matter of time.
Christopher doesn’t remember what happened with the cueball.
Read all The Mick’s stories.
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