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09/04/2012 07:32 am ET Updated Sep 04, 2012

'Locked Up Abroad': The Story Of Gerald Amster's Harrowing Escape From A Soviet Gulag (VIDEO)

Gerald Amster admitted that he was smuggling heroin through Russia at the height of the Cold War. So while he might have acknowledged that he deserved incarceration when he was caught, the conditions he served in were beyond his wildest nightmares on "Locked Up Abroad."

For four years, he was held at a labor camp, until he managed to escape. Amster said that things were so dire, he stopped feeling human.

"I’d become a machine at this point," he said after years of work. "I wasn’t a human being."

A power outage at the prison was the opportunity Amster had been waiting for, and he managed to escape the prison. He knew he could get caught or even killed at any moment, but said that he'd rather had been killed than serve another four years at the prison.

Amster made it to Moscow and the U.S. Embassy, though reports vary on what happened next. The Embassy has denied they struck a deal for his release from prison, but that's what Amster details in his book. Regardless, Amster is back in the United States. He regrets smuggling heroin and is happy to be on native soil.

"Locked Up Abroad" features true stories of foreign incarceration every Monday at 10 p.m. ET on National Geographic.

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