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A devastated father has claimed that his son was eaten by a notorious cannibal and his accomplices while he was serving a sentence in jail.
Juan Carlos Herrera Sr. told local media that his son, Juan Carlos Herrera Jr., 25, was stabbed, hanged, dismembered and then eaten during a mutiny at the Tachira Detention Center in Tachira, Venezuela.
Herrera was imprisoned in 2015 over robbery charges and became embroiled in the mutiny, which occurred after the inmates could no longer endure the inhumane conditions in the facility.
On Sept. 8, a group of prisoners took eight visitors and two guards hostage, demanding that some other prisoners be transferred to another facility. The Tachira Detention Center allegedly house 350 prisoners while only having the capacity of 120.
The rebellion came to an end on Oct. 7 when the government agreed to transfer 16 inmates elsewhere. However, Herrera Jr. and a fellow inmate Anthony Correa were nowhere to be found after it.
Three days after the incident, Herrera Sr. heard his son was murdered and eaten by the detainees from one of the witnesses.
“My son and two others were taken by 40 people, stabbed, hanged to bleed, and then Dorancel butchered them to feed all detainees,” referring to Dorancel “people-eater” Vargas, who was jailed in 1999 for cannibalism.
“The [inmate] with whom I spoke to told me that he was beaten with a hammer [in order] to force him to eat the remains of the two boys,” he added.
The father has requested the police to give him at least one bone of his son, so that his family could give it a burial and “relieve some of this pain.”
The Minister of Correctional Affairs has confirmed two of the men were unaccounted for after the riots, but refused to believe the allegations of cannibalism and said they were lies that could be “easily debunked.”
However, Humberto Prado, coordinator of the Venezuelan Prison Observatory (OVP) said, “Prisoners have been dismembered before and some inmates have forced other prisoners eat their [own] fingers. That happened in a detention center in El Tigre.”
He also said the Attorney’s General Office will investigate into the matter and submit the case to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
With the country in the grip of economic crisis, the government has failed to see to the needs of its prisoners.
Tachira is not the only city where prisoners are crammed like sardines and starving.
In the prisons of San Juan de los Morros, inmates sleep on top of one another on makeshift hammocks. Many suffer from contagious diseases like tuberculosis, which largely goes untreated. Last week, harrowing images from the prison revealed emaciated men on the brink of death from starvation and disease.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Carlos Garcia Rawlins