Strip bars and drugs uncovered in Philippine jail raid

Strip bars and drugs uncovered in Philippine jail raid

MANILA - A raid on the Philippines' biggest jail on Monday uncovered drug lords "living like kings" in secret luxury cells with strip bars, sex dolls, a jacuzzi and methamphetamines, the justice secretary said.

Police commandos in full battle armour and tracker dogs swooped down on the infamously crowded and corrupt Bilibid prison complex before dawn to verify reports that drug rings were operated from behind bars.

Aside from the methamphetamine "ice", police found 1.4 million pesos (S$41,000) in cash, inflatable sex dolls, a strip bar and a jacuzzi, across 20 air-conditioned "villas", Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.

"They are here to serve jail time but instead, they're living like kings," de Lima told reporters after the raid.

Jail officials who conspired with the inmates face "outright dismissal", she said.

During Monday's raid, one "villa" had a fully inflated sex doll sprawled on the bed while an adjacent room was equipped with an elevated platform, strobe lights and a mirror ball, police said.

Police said the platform was for strippers who were smuggled into the jail compound. A bright blue bra with feathers was hung beside the stage.

Another area had a small concert stage equipped with a flat screen television, a drum set, guitars and keyboards.

A safe in one of the rooms contained Rolex and Patek Philippe watches, Louis Vuitton wallets and stacks of dollar bills, police said.

Bathroom floors and walls were covered in marble tiles, showers with hot water were encased in glass and a bathtub had a flat screen television attached to it.

One room was stocked with an expensive whiskey brand.

Bilibid, on the outskirts of Manila was built for 8,900 inmates but currently houses 23,000.

The luxury villas, for drugs lords, kidnap gang leaders and other powerful inmates, were scattered around the sprawling 500-hectare (5 square km) compound.

De Lima expressed shock at the outcome of the raid.

But cases of rich inmates bribing prison authorities and building small houses, or simply leaving the jail, have emerged publicly repeatedly over the years.

The practice highlights corruption in government and the wide divide between rich and poor as the rest of the prisoners, mostly petty criminals, are crammed in squalid cells.

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