1. Maracaibo National prison:
It is Said to be one of the most violent prisons in the world and is located in the city of Maracaibo, Venezuela in the state of Zulia. It is also called the Maracaibo National prison and also named the gateway to the fifth circle of Hell. Quite a scary name don’t you think? The prison was actually built to contain only seven hundred inmates but now houses over three thousand seven hundred inmates. Of this number, an estimated 192 of them were children of the inmates. The prison was run by prisoners themselves, following the trend of 80% of Venezuelan prisons which are run by their prisoners. Also, the guard ratio is about 150 inmates to one guard; therefore, maintaining any order is quite tedious. Gangs of inmates had control over the prison and were led by a “pran” (inmate leader). The poorer ones have to pay the more powerful ones for a place to sleep or even water to drink.
On January 3, 1994, a riot broke out in the prison as a result of ongoing gang activity. A fire was started by a group of inmates, and then they subsequently shot or stabbed other inmates who tried to escape the fire. While there is some dispute over the number of casualties and injuries during the incident, many more prisoners were killed when security personnel attempted to take control of the prison, with some sources claiming over 150 casualties. This riot brought attention to the poor conditions in Venezuelan prisons and is often cited as one of the deadliest prison incidents to date.
While the governmental control over the prison was weak, raids by government forces frequently yielded massive amounts of weapons and drugs. One raid even discovered a collection of jungle animals housed in the prison, including a few endangered species.