El Infierno

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  • Author:
    Pieter Tritton
    El Infierno is the true story of Pieter Tritton, a British man sentenced to twelve years in Ecuador’s toughest prison for drug dealing and the horrors he sees there.

    Tritton, along with his partner Nicky, walks into his hotel room, whereupon police storm in and arrest him in possession of a cocaine-impregnated tent, designed to fool customs and sniffer dogs.

    They are both arrested and sent to Penal Garcia Moreno prison, which is where Tritton’s ordeal begins. Ecuadorian prisons aren’t anything like British or European prisons. Tritton had to buy a cell to live in, or he would have had to sleep on the concrete floor. The prison guards required payment for “food and accommodation” and the local mafia, whichever flavour happens to be on your wing, needed to have their palms greased as well, or he would’ve been tortured or killed.

    Lawyers cost a great deal of money, which was no surprise, but in Ecuador, there doesn’t appear to be an official bar, so anyone can call themselves a lawyer. It’s therefore easy for a prisoner to be stung by unscrupulous “lawyers.” Judges were paid to expedite Tritton’s case or he would’ve been in prison for years waiting his case to come to court.

    Tritton also paid for his partner Nicky’s legal defence and bills as well and I was left with the impression that without money, the average drug mule or common thief would be in real trouble and unlikely to survive in an Ecuadorian prison. Just as well he was wealthy!

    In order to pass the time, Tritton decided to deal drugs after clearing it with the various bosses in the wing. Cocaine was his thing and he was able to peddle it as a superior option to the cheaper polvo, a low grade but cheap, local narcotic.

    Nicky, who appeared to be blameless, was eventually released after serving six months in the prison, whilst Tritton continued his stretch.

    After several years, he was transferred to La Peni because the authorities got a whiff of an attempted escape plan by him and a few fellow inmates.

    La Peni makes Penal Garcia Moreno look like a holiday camp and guns and machetes are openly carried by the inmates, the guards are complicit with them and it is a ruthless experiment in Darwinism. People who cannot pay their “dues” are beaten, tortured or killed, without exception. To “protect his capital,” Tritton takes up drug-dealing in La Peni as well and rises to a position of power. Eventually he is moved to a supermax facility that had been built next to the old prison.

    The supermax facility is Tritton’s final stop before going on to finish his sentence in the UK. Needless to say, after the harshness of Ecuador’s “finest” penal institutes, HMP Wandsworth is a walk in the park.

    I am conflicted by this book and it has proved to be the most difficult I’ve yet had to review. On the one hand, it is written well and tells the reader a lot about the Ecuadorian prison system. The story is quite gripping and is pacey.

    On the other hand, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for the author. He is arrested for drug-smuggling and goes to prison, where the first thing he does is set himself up as a drug-dealer. When he’s transferred to La Peni, he does the same thing. Lessons learned? It would appear not.

    There are also a lot of instances where he has (in fairness, with good reason) railed against the corrupt Ecuadorian justice system, yet he is the only one responsible for his imprisonment. This wasn’t a case of mistaken identity or scapegoating a foreigner in a bar-room brawl, Pieter Tritton was bang to rights when the police arrested him.

    There is an underlying theme of narcissism and self-righteousness in “El Infierno” that riles, like tin foil on a tooth filling.

    From the book:

    “I would have faced a minimum 20-year prison sentence, which would have meant serving at least ten years. There was no bloody way I was serving ten years anywhere! I planned to be out after no more than three years at the very most.”

    The indignation that runs through the story irritated me, whether it was the UK police's stance on arresting him once he arrived in his home country, or that he only got ten per cent discount on his sentence, or that he couldn't bribe a judge enough to give him the six year sentence he desired. He was lucky he wasn’t arrested in Thailand where they take a more robust stance against drug-dealers.

    The blurb accompanying the book says: “This is the insider account of what it’s like to live in a place worse than hell and come out a changed man on the other side.”

    There’s nothing in the book to suggest that his experiences have changed him and from his writing, he seems unrepentant about his criminal ways.

    It is a good book, with a flowing narrative that makes it very easy to read, but in any book, either fiction or non-fiction, you have to sympathise with the main character(s) or all is lost and unfortunately, I felt no empathy with the protagonist, who made decisions that landed him in a foreign jail with all the failings of a corrupt system. Without much in the way of post-prison redemption for Pieter Tritton, it’s hard to feel that he’s learned much at all, let alone become a changed man.

    Therefore, with much deliberation, I feel that I can award no more than two stars.

dave diggs and CanteenCowboy like this.

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  1. dave diggs
    I think you're being far to nice to this smarmy turd but it is a good review.
    I got so pissed of with the patronising it I posted my own review on Waterstones.

    This book is a must .....
    It's pure comedy!
    Continuously contradicting himself throughout the book, the author clumsily witters on about how he is always trying "to keep a low profile and not draw attention to himself " and then, after a bit more drivel he brags about opportunities he keeps seeing and then exploiting to traffic and deal drugs, which is what he got banged up for in the first place.
    Changed man ??? Even right up to his release he's still boasting about being the "boss of the wing" and overseeing all the dealing.
    Reading this book is like eavesdropping on a coke bore at a party where they regale over exaggerated tales of hi jinx to anyone that can be arsed to listen.
    The torture and beatings always happen to some other poor unfortunate ......whereas all he gets away with is a nasty cough and a bad toe. Oh...and the "shrapnel" story ......really?
    The chapters on escape are some of the funniest, as he never does.........you might as well be reading a Boy Scouts pie in the sky wish list on how to escape from a tough public school dormitory.
    The best bit for me though was when he refurbed his cell and had "the builders" in.... as when one is an "international drugs trafficker" there's no way one would carry out such menial tasks oneself.
    Beautifully plastered walls
    Beige ceramic tiles
    Black porcelain
    Commissioned cupboards and tables
    Chairs upholstered in red damask silk.".....the list is so extensive I wondered if #LawrenceLlewelynBowen had been drafted in.
    Unlike Midnight Express this book does not ring true.
    The "Author" can't even put his own mugshot on the cover of his own book. Mind you after coming up with a pile of tosh like that would you??
    Can't wait for the movie.....my money is on Brad Pittbull or Benedict Cucumberpatch for the lead!
  2. CanteenCowboy
    An excellent review, I won't buy the book even though it clearly looks like a good, if troubling, read. Purely because I too don't agree with criminals profiting from their crimes, even in an indirect way such as this.
      Cav_Jules likes this.
  3. Auld-Yin
    Thanks for the review Nemes, I was in two minds whether to actually offer this book out as I have no truck with criminals making money from their crime or their punishment. However, I am not a censor so out it went and I owe you a good book next time.

    It is now for the people of Arrse to decide whether to buy or not!
      CanteenCowboy and Nemesis44UK like this.
    1. Nemesis44UK
      I've read a few prison books and generally, where the ex-inmate displays remorse for his crimes and/or becomes a reformed character, they are much more sympathetic to the reader and the book is a better read because of it.

      I'm glad that you're not a censor! If you ever feel you're on a sticky wicket with a book, send it my way and I will review it as objectively as possible.
      Nemesis44UK, Aug 16, 2017
      CanteenCowboy likes this.
    2. Nemesis44UK
      The Son of Sam law in the US prohibits criminals from making money from any books or movies based on their crimes. To my knowledge, there isn't such a law over here.
      Nemesis44UK, Aug 16, 2017
      CanteenCowboy likes this.