Thursday, November 29, 2012

Last Call

Among the many, many reasons we seek to avoid spending any time inside a Mexican prison is that, well, they're kind of a free-for-all, a place without any rules - which is ironic because, when you think about it, the whole point of prison is to impose incredibly rigid rules 24 hours a day.  Anyway, we've heard all the tales of the big-time kingpins who live like pashas, with cellphones, internet, and an endless supply of luxuries.  But earlier this week some small-time hood doing a few years for something or other here in Querétaro's San Jose El Alto managed to surprise us.

San Jose El Alto already has a reputation as sort of a party school ("a centro de fiestas of all kinds - drugs, alcohol, prostitution, even bullfights") and Fernando Morales Díaz had the requisite handful of psychotropic pills and cocaine in his cell, but authorities also discovered a 20-liter tank of homemade pulque, that he was brewing in his cell and selling to other prisoners.

Which is... wow.  Pills, sure, someone smuggles them in and you hide them in your ass.  But pulque, a frothy white milky beverage made from the maguey plant, is not something for your average home brewer.  From the Wikipedia:
The production process is long and delicate. The maguey plant needs 12 years of maturation before the sap, or aguamiel, can be extracted, but a good plant can produce for up to one year. This aguamiel can be drunk straight, but it is alcoholic only after a fermentation process that can start in the plant itself.

The collected juice is placed into 50-liter barrels and carried from the field to the fermentation vats.... After placing the juice in the fermentation vats, mature seed pulque (semilla or xanaxtli) is added to "jump start" the process.... Fermentation takes from seven to 14 days, and the process seems to be more art than science. A number of factors can affect fermenting pulque, such as temperature, humidity and the quality of the aguamiel.
Dude was doing this in his prison cell. And only got caught because he went to the infirmary, which triggered a routine inspection of his cell. Anyone this ambitious ought to be granted clemency immediately and put to work at the highest reaches of state government.

4 comments:

Dave said...

Awesome. Pulque? Pulque?? Only in Mexico. So,enquiring minds want to know....how did he manage to "smuggle" (hard to imagine) that much raw material there in the first place? No need for cavity searches, obviously.

Mexfiles said...

A semi-serious answer: Latin American penologists see prisons as places of rehabilitation, rather than punishment (thus, the euphemistic name for them in Mexico: "Centers for Social Readaption"). It's normal and expected that if you have a trade, you'll still practice it in prison. I knew a restauranteur in prison on fraud charges who worked with a butcher in on a murder charge, who had a nice catering business going on... though they did have to smuggle in the booze (not all that hard to do).

Dave said...

@Mexfiles....actually makes sense at the lower end of the crime scale, however if your trade got you there in the first place, it's another story...e.g. Zeta hitman. Still...pulque?

Mexfiles said...

@Dave. Why not pulque? You'd have a hard time finding any regulation against growing, or bringing in maguay in a prison.