Prison art becomes a thriving business in Mexico

Global Business


Sometimes beauty comes from unexpected places. A Spanish entrepreneur in Mexico discovered that by creating uniquely designed leather bags with the help of jailed inmates.

CCTV America’s Franc Contreras reports from Mexico City.

One-of-a-kind bags, each with its own special design that tattooed by hand directly onto the leather. They come from a company called Prison Art. The artists are inmates to hold in six different prisons across Mexico.

Prison Art has become a thriving business, with a non-profit heart that reinvests profits back into the operation. It is the brainchild of Jorge Cueto.

Cueto got the idea while he was in jail for 11 months, awaiting trial on fraud charges. A case against him never materialized and he was set free.

His time in jail allowed him to see the creative value of prison tattoo art. Cueto now employs 240 Mexican inmates in all, many of whom he hopes to inspire out of a lives of crime.

The Prison Art bags sell for an average of $400 each.

Cueto sells hundreds of them per month at stores in upscale Mexico City neighborhoods, and in tourist locations like Cancun and San Miguel de Allende, where many foreigners live.

To participate, inmates must stay off drugs and maintain good behavior.