ATLANTA, DEC. 9 -- The stench of spoiled food and sweat hung over the graffiti-smeared Atlanta Federal Penitentiary today as workers mopped up after a 12-day takeover by Cuban inmates "who took great pride in trashing the institution" after releasing 94 hostages.
Reporters on a tour of the stone-walled fortress stepped over empty tuna cans, sexually oriented magazines and broken furniture and viewed an arsenal of makeshift weapons used by the detainees to take over the 85-year-old penitentiary.
Among the artifacts was a partially finished, homemade powered hang glider on which authorities suspect a much-feared convicted killer, Thomas (Berserko) Silverstein, planned to escape before the Cubans drugged him, shackled him and handed him over to guards during the uprising.
"They took great pride in trashing the institution," said Mike Caltabiano, executive assistant to the warden, standing amid the rubble in a cell block occuppied by the Cubans five days ago. "Apparently they wanted to make sure they would never have to come back."
Reporters entered the prison around 10 a.m., six hours after the remaining 14 Cuban prisoners were transferred to other federal facilities, and viewed more than 300 homemade weapons fashioned from bed frames and metal supplies from the prison factory.
"They had a 24-hour operation going at all times producing the weapons," Caltabiano said. "The FBI could hear the grinding from the machine shop all the time."
The weapons, laid out on all tables, chairs, desktops and the floor of the assistant warden's office, included 2-foot-long machetes in leather sheaths, scissors, spears, a blow torch and a golf putter stolen from the recreation storage room.
One spear's wooden handle was incribed with "I love America," and the name "Pipian Calabazar, Havana, Cuba, Nov. 23, 1987," the day inmates stormed and seized the maximum-security prison.
A crew of about 500 prison staff and inmates from the prison's low-security camp had begun the cleanup process, clearing rubble from the prison yard and mopping marble corridors. But evidence of the destruction in cell blocks, dormitories and the two-tiered chapel building, where most of the hostages were held, remained.
"I don't think that this kind of destruction was necessary," Caltabiano said, after a tour of cell blocks and chapel building. "A lot of it was malicious in nature and took place after the agreement was reached and after the government bargained in good faith."
Messages painted in blue, white and red covered several brick walls facing the prison yard.