La Picota, the Colombian prison where César Emilio Peralta, better known as César “el Abusador”, is being held, has been in the public eye following incidents in recent days.
In addition to the dismantling of a telephone exchange from which citizens of different countries, including Dominicans, were extorted, a fight involving “the Abuser” took place and an inmate who was to be extradited to Argentina lost his life.
These events took place in a prison that is considered to be a maximum security prison. It is officially called “Complejo Carcelario y Penitenciario Metropolitano de Bogotá” (COMEB) and is located in Rafael Uribe Uribe Uribe, in Bogota, according to the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute (Inpec) of that country.
According to the entity, La Picota has roots that extend back to 1873, through a panopticon law (a prison design that allows a guard to observe all inmates without them knowing they are being watched), and its first name was “Penitenciaría Central de Cundinamarca” (Central Penitentiary of Cundinamarca).
Its construction began the following year and it began operating in 1880, with a library, infirmary, dental office, dining room, kitchen and an area for sports recreation for some 400 inmates.
However, the Inpec reviewed that in 1914 a change of location was being considered that would allow it to build a more modern prison, and it was not until 1935 that the development of the Central Penitentiary of Bogota was promoted, on the premises of the hacienda La Picota.
“It was initially developed in a block 110 meters long by 12 meters wide, 228 cells were distributed in each gallery, each pavilion was formed by two lateral corridors of 24 cells, separated by a corridor, its structure was built in concrete, covered in clay tile and tiled floor,” read part of the Inpec report.
In the mid-1940s, Colombian authorities established a sanatorium to more effectively treat inmates who had contracted tuberculosis, which later functioned as a psychiatric annex and is currently used for minimum security inmates.
In 1992, Inpec indicated that a restructuring of the National Prison Directorate took place, which led to its creation and with it began the construction of the maximum security wing, which operates with a capacity of 44 cells.
Four years later, they adapted public houses to hold ex-officials, a structure called Centro Especial de Reclusión (CER), which consisted of 25 houses, each with two bedrooms.
However, in 2002 the inmates located in the CER were relocated to other pavilions of the penitentiary and the fiscal houses were assigned to the prison’s command staff.
Finally, on October 22, 2012, the name of the penitentiary was changed again, officially establishing the COMEB, composed of three structures.
In December 2019, “El Abusador” was apprehended in Cartagena, Colombia, after months of search by Dominican and U.S. authorities.
Considered at the time as the most wanted person in the Dominican Republic, he is accused of coordinating the largest drug trafficking network in the history of our country.
Following his arrest, he was transferred to the Colombian prison La Picota, where he was involved in the death of another inmate this week, and awaits the completion of his extradition process to the United States.
In addition to the Cesar Emilio Peralta incident, La Picota was recently at the center of another scandal, revealed by Colombian news outlet Caracol.
According to the story, an undercover agent entered the facility with a camera and recorded the inmates gathered in a cell, “each one with his cell phone” carrying out extortions where they requested money for false orders.
After this discovery, an operation was carried out where they found at least 24 cell phones and a dungeon located in a corridor of one of the patios, from where the extortion calls were made to different parts of Colombia, including other countries, such as Peru, Bolivia, Dominican Republic and the United States.
The extortionists also contacted the victims through social networks such as Facebook.