They call themselves “Los Anegados” (The Unwanted). They are prisioners that sew their mouths up to ask to be transferred to a different prision because their lives are in danger inside their current penitentiray. Inmate sew their mouths shut as part of a hunger strike.

The desperate act is also meant to protect them from rival gangs, which fight for control of cell blocks and a thriving drug trade within the prision. If a prisioner has sewn his mouth shut, he cannot be slain by a fellow inmate, according to an unwritten but widely respected code of ethics that is commonly accepted among Venezuela’s inmates.