Meet Jhon Calzones, Colombia’s mayor ruling from behind bars
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Meet Jhon Calzones, Colombia’s mayor ruling from behind bars

He might have been elected as mayor of Yopal, a 150,000 inhabitant town in Colombia’s eastern Llanos region, but Jhon Jairo Torres won’t be celebrating his new position, remaining been behind bars since October 14.

The politician is currently imprisoned at Bogotá’s La Modelo prison over fraud and money laundering claims, having sold a 140 hectare lot to low income families in the region, which it then transpired, belonged to drug cartels, BBC Mundo reports.

Known as “Jhon Calzones” for his successful female lingerie line, Torres remained optimistic about his political campaign despite having sold an alleged 10 lots at between $10,000 to $13,000 per sale.

“I’m proud to be here in La Modelo as my crime was to serve the people. I’d like to invite you to vote on October 25, I need 70,000 votes to show the justice system that I am not a danger to Yopal,” he commented.

Torres could face a prison term of three to seven years, placing a dampener on his future career aspirations. Under Colombian law, he will be stripped of his political power if found guilty.

Corruption charges

Torres unusual selling tactics have seemingly worked as part of his campaign trail, with the politician now claiming he owns a five star hotel, 15 trucks, apartments in both Yopal and Bogotá and numerous Appaloosa horses, but the streak of luck could be up for this Colombian cowboy.

In fact, in June Torres’ assets were frozen and ten of his properties seized by Colombian authorities, to the total sum of $3.500 million – not bad for a small-town mayor.

But despite promoting the fight against corruption as part of his mandate, Torres’ seems to be instead at the center of an ongoing and increasingly complex political puzzle.

Dry outlook

Yopal, some 350 kilometers from Bogotá lies at the gateway to the country’s oil drilling region. Casanare has suffered horrendous drought, as the “El Niño” phenomenon has hit the east of the country, damaging farmland and killing off hundreds of species and livestock.

Torres’ Movimiento Social la Bendición party planned to build an aqueduct and water treatment plant, good news for the long suffering inhabitants of the region and some 140,000 residents of Yopal struggling to even store drinking water.

But links to “Loco Barrera” a drug trafficker extradited to the U.S. in 2013, and dodgy dealings in land which is set to be seized due to its narco ties could mean that Torres’ ambitious political campaign will end before he has even left prison.

Still, the underwear market won’t go out of fashion anytime soon.

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