Birmingham gang boss: I won't die in Panama hell-hole jail
Sunday, September 07 2014 @ 11:07 AM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
And the former cocaine cartel kingpin, who narrowly escaped death during a mass riot in notorious La Joya, had a simple message for his Birmingham family: “I’m not going to die here. I’ve become acclimatised to it.”
The former boxer turned drug baron has been confined to a 180-bed block, now crammed with 506 lags, since the bloody riot broke out in “Pavilion Six” three weeks ago.
And the 57-year-old, who survived for years in El Renacer Prison’s rancid, rat-infested conditions before being transferred to a high-security nick deemed even more hardcore, has emerged from the carnage to become spokesman for foreign prisoners.
In all, he has been banged up for 11 years – a stretch punctuated by bouts of solitary confinement.
Morgan has been particularly scathing of the treatment meted out to cellmate Mark Bodden, from British overseas territory, The Cayman Islands. The 37-year-old died after falling eight feet from his makeshift bed.
According to a document leaked by Morgan, it was 12 hours before drugs mule Bodden received medical attention for serious head injuries.
“Mark didn’t have to die,” said Morgan. “It could have been prevented. He died because of neglect.
“He didn’t have to go like that. He kept on about fishing in Cayman but he was a fish out of water here.”
Bodden is the 60th prisoner that Witton-raised Morgan, a once well-known, and feared, city bouncer, has seen die behind bars.
The tough regime has slipped from harsh to subhuman since the riot, where one Canadian suffered serious injury after being trampled by a mob desperately fleeing from the mist curtains of CS spray. Morgan helped drag the victim to safety.
“It just kicked off,” he said matter-of-factly. “They were just robbing. People were fighting back.”
Foreign prisoners are now confined 24/7 in a barn-like wing, and eke out an existence on rice and rainwater.
“It is now really bad,” he said. “It is unbelievable. It’s like the Vietnam War, the body count.
“Toilet? You use a bag or bucket and throw it over the wall.
“You have to get past it. I’d like to run away, but I can’t. I want to put this behind me. I just want to get to my family. It’s just bubbling up.”
Morgan, jailed since a £500,000 haul of cocaine was discovered at his Panamanian ranch, has three children in Birmingham. He also has a family in Central America. One of Birmingham’s most high-profile criminals, he fled Britain following a cannabis smuggling probe 21 years ago,
“We are locked down here, son,” he said. “We can’t go out. I can’t do my boxing.”
The hardman scrapes a living inside by fighting fellow prisoners for cash, and the reputation gained during those brutal brawls has helped Morgan avoid the morgue.
“No-one steps over the mark,” he growled. “You have your little battles and people get to know you.”
One of those little battles only days ago left Morgan nursing another stab wound, his family claims.
“Mosquitoes, malaria come around, but you have to get through it,” he added.
In his quest for better conditions, Morgan has met global diplomats, but has hit a brick wall. “They are not bothered,” he snapped. “They can’t get involved, the MP can’t get involved. What do you do? We’re not in Afghanistan here.”
Morgan is in limbo, without a release date in sight, courtesy of a tug-of-war with cops in Chechnya. They want him in the Russian state to face cocaine trafficking allegations.
“I can’t do with the not knowing and things going on and on,” he admitted. “You don’t know what’s going on. It’s madness.”
Morgan’s harrowing account of incarceration in Panama is borne out by official documents.
A 2012 report by the US bureau of democracy, human rights and labour concluded: “Prison conditions remained harsh and in some cases life-threatening.
“Problems included overcrowding, lack of medical services, lack of potable water and inadequate ventilation, lighting and sewage.”
Morgan’s own sister, Birmingham care home worker Linda Hirst, has little sympathy for his current predicament.
“When he got into what he got into, he knew there was going to be a consequence,” she said. “He brought it on himself. All gangsters eventually have to pay the price. I’ve worked all my life and look at the life I got...” (Birmingham Mail)