‘It won’t happen to me. That’s what I thought when I got on the plane to Venezuela. But it did – I got caught.’
Caught smuggling half a million euros’ worth of cocaine, Paul Keany was sexually assaulted by Venezuelan anti-drugs officers before being sentenced to eight years in the notorious Los Teques prison outside Caracas. There he was plunged into a nightmarish world of coke-fuelled killings, gun battles, stabbings, extortion and forced hunger strikes until finally, just over two years into his sentence, he gained early parole and embarked on a daring escape from South America . . .
Aided by his extensive prison diaries, Keany reveals the true horror of life inside Los Teques: a shocking underworld behind bars where inmates pay protection money to stay alive, prostitutes do the rounds and vast amounts of cocaine are smuggled in for cell-block bosses to sell on to prisoners for huge profits. The Cocaine Diaries is a remarkable story, told by Keany with honesty, courage and even humour, despite knowing that every day behind bars might have been his last.
In 2008, after the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, Irish plumber Paul Keany was struggling to pay off a loan and a new van, and support one of his two teenaged kids. An offer to smuggle six kilos of cocaine worth half a million euros from Venezuela back home to Dublin would've netted him an "easy" 10,000. That is, if he hadn't gotten caught. Arrested before boarding his return flight, Keany is escorted to the drug squad headquarters where he is raped by police and handcuffed to a stairwell for days without food. Once in the infamous Los Teques prison, where he was to serve eight years for his crimes, he is forced to pay the wing boss and his armed henchmen in exchange for protection. It would be an understatement to say it was money well spent during Keany's incarceration, an inmate blows himself up with a grenade, another shoots his wife in the head on visitor's day, a deadly riot erupts, Keany is stabbed, and all the while the corrupt National Guard keeps a cursory watch while supplying the prisoners with weapons and drugs. Keany relates these and other atrocities without an ounce of self-pity, and his final escape from Venezuela will leave readers with sweaty palms and clenched teeth. Glossary.