Locked Up in La Mesa
In the freewheeling '70s, La Mesa Penitentiary was a prison unlike any other, a colorful little pueblo on the east side of Tijuana that was home to the worst criminals imaginable-and their entire families. Everything was controlled by the inmates, and the world they created was a bizarre reflection of the one they'd left behind: There was a bustling business district complete with stores and restaurants, a prison laundry staffed by transvestite hookers and a babysitting service run by a schizophrenic murderer. Weekend fiestas brought drunken partiers to the prison, along with masked wrestlers and strolling mariachis. It was a temple of vice where the inmates had better guns than the guards, a place so out of control that people from the outside would actually visit the prison to score drugs. And at the very top of the food chain were the capos, an elite class of drug lords and gang bosses. While the average inmate lived in a makeshift shanty made of scrap lumber and cardboard, the capos had two-story casas complete with offices, harems, and Jacuzzis on the balcony. La Mesa at the time was both a deadly powderkeg and a nonstop party. "Locked Up In La Mesa" is the true story of Steve Peterson, a young California surfer dude caught smuggling pot in the hills outside Tijuana. In thirty-four short stories of black humor and bittersweet humanity, Steve, together with writer Eldon Asp, recalls his hilarious adventures and scary close calls inside the most notorious prison in Mexico...

Locked Up in La Mesa Details

TitleLocked Up in La Mesa
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 11th, 2011
PublisherDirt City Press
ISBN-139780983723707
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Mystery, Crime, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography

Locked Up in La Mesa Review

  • Juan
    January 1, 1970
    Overall, I enjoyed the book. It's written in a very conversational style, a little too much for me. It's the author's first book, and you can tell. It reads more like a movie script. Each chapter is one story. Very easy to read and I read; read it on a couple of sittings.The book is about a guy's stay in a state penitentiary in Tijuana. He made it sound like he was locked up for years, but he was in there for a few months. I'm not saying that I would want to be locked up for one day, but it was Overall, I enjoyed the book. It's written in a very conversational style, a little too much for me. It's the author's first book, and you can tell. It reads more like a movie script. Each chapter is one story. Very easy to read and I read; read it on a couple of sittings.The book is about a guy's stay in a state penitentiary in Tijuana. He made it sound like he was locked up for years, but he was in there for a few months. I'm not saying that I would want to be locked up for one day, but it was still a little misleading. Having read a few prison books I have to say that I would rather be locked up in Mexico any time. I don't want to spoil it for you but the stories are not anywhere as bad as American prison books. I think it plays into the American fear of being locked up in a foreign prison not realizing that American prisons are probably some of the worst.Overall, though, it's an entertaining book.
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  • Steve Parcell
    January 1, 1970
    I have read a lot of the books regarding guys being banged up abroad and South America in particular.They are full of tension and you always felt the main protagonist was in real danger and there were perils at every corner. Constantly waiting to be shot or stabbed or beaten to death. Inmates, guards and the local wildlife always kept them on their toes and you felt you were rooting for them to just survive. Even though they were drug smugglers.However with this guy the Mexican prison felt like I have read a lot of the books regarding guys being banged up abroad and South America in particular.They are full of tension and you always felt the main protagonist was in real danger and there were perils at every corner. Constantly waiting to be shot or stabbed or beaten to death. Inmates, guards and the local wildlife always kept them on their toes and you felt you were rooting for them to just survive. Even though they were drug smugglers.However with this guy the Mexican prison felt like a holiday camp. There was little tension and the book just did not flow. Its a collection of stories which means it doesn't flow. He comes across as rather trite and annoying.Yes some of the stories are interesting and made me smile a little but on the whole it was rather banal.
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  • Tara
    January 1, 1970
    In the 70's, Steve Peterson got arrested for smuggling marijuana across the Mexican border. He ended up in a notoriously bad Mexican prison for almost a year due to the large amount of pot he was smuggling. La Mesa reminded me of the South American prison in the tv show Prison Break. Inmates were sort of thrown in there and left to their own devices. Some inmates had their entire families living in there with them. A hierarchy was structured with the "leader" of the prison living in an onsite ho In the 70's, Steve Peterson got arrested for smuggling marijuana across the Mexican border. He ended up in a notoriously bad Mexican prison for almost a year due to the large amount of pot he was smuggling. La Mesa reminded me of the South American prison in the tv show Prison Break. Inmates were sort of thrown in there and left to their own devices. Some inmates had their entire families living in there with them. A hierarchy was structured with the "leader" of the prison living in an onsite house with a jacuzzi. The inmates could buy property from him (Peterson bought a small cell with cardboard walls for a few hundred dollars) and he controlled all the buying/selling/trading that went on within the prison.The prison system itself was really interesting, but I felt like the author was focused more on telling a bunch of random crazy stories rather than giving us a good background on the prison or even himself. You know how you go to a party and there's that one guy who dominates the conversation with his crazy stories? It's interesting at first, but after a few stories your eyes sort of glaze over and your mind starts wandering - that's sort of what this book was like. Every chapter was a different story and nothing was really cohesive besides the fact that they all took place in this prison. It was just a collection of outlandish stories. I have no doubt that they really happened, but I would have preferred a little more background and cohesiveness overall.Another sort of nit-picky thing was the overuse of certain words or phrases. Almost every page had a sentence that ended with "...or whatever." and it got really old after about the first chapter. The whole book was a very conversational style, but maybe a little TOO informal (like I said above, it was really like listening to a guy tell you stories at a party, complete with common oral sentence fillers). But it was a quick and easy read if you're at all interested in the Mexican prison system of the 1970s, just don't expect a thought-provoking novel.
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  • Todd Cannon
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a true story about a California kid, Steve Anderson, caught trying to smuggle Pot into the U.S. from Mexico in the 1970's. He is arrested in Mexico and spends a little over a year in a Mexican Prison. I don't think that Anderson wrote this book to teach any great life lesson. He mentions at the beginning that only now is he able to talk/write about many of the experiences in the book. I got the impression that he felt like he needed to tell his stories just to get it out and that he This book is a true story about a California kid, Steve Anderson, caught trying to smuggle Pot into the U.S. from Mexico in the 1970's. He is arrested in Mexico and spends a little over a year in a Mexican Prison. I don't think that Anderson wrote this book to teach any great life lesson. He mentions at the beginning that only now is he able to talk/write about many of the experiences in the book. I got the impression that he felt like he needed to tell his stories just to get it out and that he put it in a book because maybe it would sell.Each chapter is really a short story. While the fist few tell about his plan to smuggle the Pot and how he got caught, once he is in La Mesa the stories are not always chronological. He is just telling stories about things that happened to him and people he knew there. Some of the reviews do not seem to like this style but I enjoyed it. I like hearing stories.The conditions were pretty bad in La Mesa and the language used there was pretty bad too. Anderson does not shy away from quoting or paraphrasing the language used there and he gives some vivid descriptions of the the conditions. If you think this will bother you, you probably don't want to read this book. I did not think he put in the language for its shock value, I think he and the people he knows do and did talk that way. Somehow that made it not bother me as much. It also made it easier to skim over the raw language. I could tell where the words would be and sort of just go on. When I think an author is just trying to "be real" or shock me the language seems to jump out at me and offend me more.I'm not sad that I read the book. I got the Kindle edition free a few months ago. I'm not sure I will read it again. I'm don't "not recommend" it but I don't necessarily recommend it either. If it is something that you think would interest you it is a fairly easy and quick read.
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  • Dawn Edwards
    January 1, 1970
    A Non-Fiction Horror Story This is a book written to document Steve Peterson's life during the several years he was locked up in La Mesa, reputed to be the worst prison in Mexico. Mr. Peterson with the aid of Eldon Asp has written a set of stories that portray how terrible being in this prison is. The two of them in collaboration make it clear that the entire Mexican Prison system as well as the officials including judges are totally corrupt. Mr. Peterson would have us believe that his incarcera A Non-Fiction Horror Story This is a book written to document Steve Peterson's life during the several years he was locked up in La Mesa, reputed to be the worst prison in Mexico. Mr. Peterson with the aid of Eldon Asp has written a set of stories that portray how terrible being in this prison is. The two of them in collaboration make it clear that the entire Mexican Prison system as well as the officials including judges are totally corrupt. Mr. Peterson would have us believe that his incarceration was due to his playing the hero and making sure that the two people involved with him did not have to serve the same sentence that he had to serve.His claims that you could buy anything in prison if you had enough money may or may not be true. In order to finish reading his tale of horrors, I had to suspend disbelief, which was a bit easy as I've worked in the prison system in our country and know that people other than prisoners are also often criminals who haven't yet been caught.I would hope, that after reading this book, there would be people in law enforcement in Mexico who could do something to change the system there, starting with the lowest cop on the beat to the highest Mexican officials. Perhaps that is a pie-in-the-sky hope, but I hope this book is an aid in some kind of prison reform in Mexico and possibly even some kind of reform in the prison systems in our country.This book was an interesting read, though anything but joyful. It was unfortunate from my standpoint that Mr. Peterson felt the need to couch his tales in gutter language, even though I know it's the language of the prisons on both sides of the border. I'm sure there are untold stories that Mr. Peterson can possibly use in another book, particularly if he discovers that the horrors in this book helped in any kind of prison reform.Dawn Edwards, Kindle Book Review
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  • Sarah Davalt
    January 1, 1970
    So this is the next book in line from my free Kindle books. This is the story of a white guy in the late 70’s that got caught smuggling pot from Mexico into the US. His bad was luck was that he got caught on the Mexico side with no bribe money and was sent to La Mesa. Apparently this is a famous Mexican prison, but I had never heard of out before I read this book. It was an OK book, the writer has some wild stories, but it is not well written. The chapters are short stories almost, but the write So this is the next book in line from my free Kindle books. This is the story of a white guy in the late 70’s that got caught smuggling pot from Mexico into the US. His bad was luck was that he got caught on the Mexico side with no bribe money and was sent to La Mesa. Apparently this is a famous Mexican prison, but I had never heard of out before I read this book. It was an OK book, the writer has some wild stories, but it is not well written. The chapters are short stories almost, but the writer has a tendency to go off on tangents. The stories are believable, and not as crazy in this day and age as they might have been in the 70's. I have pretty neutral feelings it was an easy filler book, but not something I would read again.For additional reviews please see my blog at www.adventuresofabibliophile.blogspot...
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  • Jules
    January 1, 1970
    That Book surprised me.I expected some experiences similar to ones from concentration camps and was prepared for some bad bad stuff.But I learned that a prison can be different from the prisons I have seen (on TV of course). La Mesa is more like its own country with its own rules and structures. I was really startled when I read that some of the inmates had their own apartment inside the prison while others need to sleep outside, starving. Or that some people from outside came into the prison to That Book surprised me.I expected some experiences similar to ones from concentration camps and was prepared for some bad bad stuff.But I learned that a prison can be different from the prisons I have seen (on TV of course). La Mesa is more like its own country with its own rules and structures. I was really startled when I read that some of the inmates had their own apartment inside the prison while others need to sleep outside, starving. Or that some people from outside came into the prison to live there because they wanted to be together...That was very interesting. I did not care about any of the "characters" , tough (which are/were real people, so thats okay if they are not "written interesting").
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  • Beryl Cost
    January 1, 1970
    I did enjoy this book even though it's like a train wreck. not in that it is bad. it's not. I was fascinated in a horrible way with what was happening. it is written in a conversational style as if the author is sitting in a bar with you telling you these stories. it's a series of vignettes of his time in a notorious Mexican prison back in the seventies and it really is unbelievable. I'm glad I read it. it's a view of a slice of life I could never even imagine existed. worth the read definitely.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    I actually didn't want to give this 4 stars because there are so many more profound books out there, but I give it that purely on the entertainment factor. This isn't a great work and doesn't have thought provoking statements that will change your life or keep you pondering for weeks to come on the meaning of life. It was just fascinating to hear this guy's stories and it kept me interested throughout, so it deserved a good rating. It even caused me to go and Google "La Mesa", and you don't actu I actually didn't want to give this 4 stars because there are so many more profound books out there, but I give it that purely on the entertainment factor. This isn't a great work and doesn't have thought provoking statements that will change your life or keep you pondering for weeks to come on the meaning of life. It was just fascinating to hear this guy's stories and it kept me interested throughout, so it deserved a good rating. It even caused me to go and Google "La Mesa", and you don't actually find much on it which makes the book even more intriguing.
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  • Leann
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting read about experiences in La Mesa, a federal prison in Mexico in the '70s. Fascinating look at life in a prison that allowed wives and kids, girlfriends, etc. I do get the sense that more could have been told, especially about his own story rather than just what he observed, but it was still a good read.
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  • Beth Erwin
    January 1, 1970
    Short stories about the highlights of time in La Mesa prison in Mexico. Humorously told, but some of these are truly scary or disturbing if you take the time to think about it. All in all, it was worth reading just for the novelty of it, but not a book I'd read twice.
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  • Lorraine
    January 1, 1970
    It was interesting to read of prison life in La Mesa and I enjoyed reading this book.
  • Domonique
    January 1, 1970
    A Fascinating readThis was a n interesting story, a look inside one man's stay inside a Mexican prison, one of the worst in Mexico.
  • Evalynn
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book. Mr Peterson's writing is like listening to someone tell you stories. Very enjoyable!
  • Phyllis
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. the author had a delivery that just demonstrated a 70s mindset. you could feel how the events affected him.
  • Justin
    January 1, 1970
    liked it. a true story. of a guys time in a Mexican prison in the 80s. reads like a visit to a slightly demented circus. easy fun read.
  • Isabella Ellis
    January 1, 1970
    Entertaining and a peek into a world I would never see for myself.
  • Anmarie
    January 1, 1970
    Quick & Easy read.
  • Brenda
    January 1, 1970
    Reading on my Kindle.
  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    This was like watching a 2-hour episode of Locked Up Abroad. It describes prison life in Tijuana for an American drug runner in 1974. Very interesting.
  • Jason Nelson
    January 1, 1970
    Great read!Very incitful. The narrative was as I were there. Very descriptive.Extremely captivating through all parts of the story. Hooked
  • Jeannie Tillery
    January 1, 1970
    interesting but simple. Not a great story
  • Pablo
    January 1, 1970
    This book reads entirely like the final season of Prison Break.
  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    Awful
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