Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Marching Powder by Rusty Young and Thomas McFadden

Marching Powder: A true story of friendship, cocaine, and South America's strangest jail, Rusty Young and Thomas McFadden. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2003. e-book, 378 pps.

Thomas McFadden was an international [sort of] distributor of drugs. He was living in England and had the misfortune to be caught holding at a Bolivian airport. After some time in a holding cell, he was sent to San Pedro. 

San Pedro at that time was a different sort of prison. Thomas McFadden quickly discovered that he was expected to pay some money to get in to the prison and then he was expected to buy his own cell. Another prisoner befriended him and promptly gave him the nic "ingles" which pretty much saved his life. The prisoners hated Americans. Bunches of folks were in the prison because of the so-called War On Drugs.

The prisoners were also expected to find their own jobs within the prison if they wanted to work. A prisoner could help make cocaine, sell cocaine, run a restaurant or grocery story, act as a courier or some other stuff inside. Ingles began conducting tours. The tours became widely popular among the backpacking set and then spread to other tourists.

Yes, Thomas McFadden did cocaine and quite a few other drugs and got drunk in San Pedro just like almost everyone else. There is a pretty woman, some rapists, a prison pool, and the families of the other prisoners in the story. Marching Powder illustrates the depth of corruption within San Pedro at that point in time. Reports differ as to whether or not things have changed there.

sapphoq reviews says: Thomas McFadden and Rusty Young have written a captivating [and true] narrative. I could not put the book down. Highly recommended.

a couple of news articles you can check out if you want to:




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