Stephen H. Wilson Papers, 1973-1977

Manuscript Collection #301

  • Descriptive Summary
    Title: Stephen H. Wilson Papers
    Creator: Wilson, Stephen H.
    Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
    Language: English
    Abstract: Papers (1973-1977) of counselor at the Tideland Mental Health Center, Washington, N.C., who was imprisoned on drug related charges in Mexico, 1973-1975 consisting of correspondence, clippings, playboy magazine, abusive treatment of prisoners, etc.
    Extent: 0.22 Cubic feet, 65 items , consisting of correspondence and clippings (1973-1975, 1977).
  • Description

    Stephen H. Wilson, a counselor at the Tideland Mental Health Center in Washington, N.C., was imprisoned in June 1973 on phony drug trafficking charges while on vacation in Mexico. His correspondence during this period (1973-1975), to friends in North Carolina and family in New Jersey, reveal the lack of Mexican justice and the condition of Mexican prisons, and concern the activities of the U.S. Narcotics Agency in Mexico. Clippings (1973-1975, 1977) reveal the plight of Americans charged with drug trafficking and focus on prison conditions.

    Wilson's correspondence concerns his imprisonment, first at San Luis and later at Nogales, both in the border province of Sonora, Mexico. In one letter (July 1973), Wilson tells of his arrest, imprisonment, and prison conditions at San Luis Prison, while other letters describe the racial tensions there, the predominance of drugs within the prison, and the abusive treatment received by prisoners during interrogation (undated).

    Other letters tell of the conditions under which Wilson was transferred to the Nogales Prison, a major prison riot by Mexicans against American prisoners, the forced payment for protection, and a riot that ensued after the Americans refused to pay additional money.

    Throughout his correspondence, Wilson describes the unjustness of Mexican law when applied to foreigners. These letters describe the schemes of dishonest lawyers who use prisoners to extort money from their families, and how those without direct political influence or money are in a hopeless position. Wilson also charges that sentences for Mexicans were much more lenient than for Americans due to the direct involvement of the U.S. Narcotics Agency.

    Wilson also comments on the unwillingness of the U.S. consulate to intervene on the behalf of U.S. citizens in Mexican jails.

    Finally, after a long, costly, and unsuccessful legal battle in Mexican courts, Wilson escaped from Nogales prison. This story is retold in a letter to Playboy magazine (March 1975).

  • Administrative Information
    Accessions Information

    April 26, 1976, 66 items, Correspondence and clippings (1973-1975), pertaining to imprisonment in Mexico. Deposited by Mr. Stephen H. Wilson, Greenville, N.C.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Mr. Stephen H. Wilson

    Access Restrictions


    Copyright Notice

    Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

    Preferred Citation

    Stephen H. Wilson Papers (#301), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

    Processing Information

    Processed by M. Quintanilla, November 1986

    Encoded by Apex Data Services

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