Mexico Prison Riot Was Cover For Drug Cartel Jailbreak
A wild prison riot in northern Mexico on Sunday that left 44 people stabbed and bludgeoned to death was planned as a cover for a massive drug cartel jailbreak – likely with the help of corrupt prison officials, authorities said.
Officials in the state of Nuevo Leon believe that at least 30 inmates with links to the ruthless Zetas drug gang escaped amid the early-morning chaos at the high-security lockup near Monterrey, The Associated Press reported.
Governor Rodrigo Medina said 18 prison guards and four other officials – including the prison director – were under investigation for aiding the escape.
“Unfortunately, a group of traitors has set back the work of a lot of good police,” Medina said at a news conference.
“This isn’t a thing where, in the middle of a riot, it occurred to these people to escape,” he added. “There was a plan, which undoubtedly relied on the complicity of some officials.”
The riot broke out at around 2 a.m. Sunday when a group of Zetas attacked members of a rival gang, the Gulf cartel, with improvised clubs, shivs and stones.
The fighting lasted for a few hours before state and federal police regained control.
As news of the riots spread, families of the prisoners clamored outside the prison gates, rattling the chain link fence and shouting at police for word about the victims, AP reported.
Medina didn’t offer details on how the prisoners got out, but confirmed that all 30 were Zetas. Most were in jail for federal offenses, including drug running and weapons possession.
Sunday’s riot was the bloodiest in recent memory, and came just days after more than 350 people were killed in a prison fire in Honduras.
In January, 31 prisoners were killed during a prison riot in Gulf coast city of Altamira, which borders Texas.
The Zetas, which was started by a rebel group of Mexican army commandoes, were allied with the Gulf cartels until late 2010, when the two groups began warring over turf across northeastern Mexico.
The deadly brawl and jailbreak highlighted the miserable conditions and corruption inside many of northern Mexico’s prisons, which have become stuffed with violent felons due to the military’s crackdown on drug cartels.
“It would be very good for the state if a large number of federal inmates are transferred out, in light of the overcrowding we have,” Medina said.
Read more: DN