Eleven Days in Hell: The 1974 Carrasco Prison Siege in Huntsville, Texas

Eleven Days in Hell: The 1974 Carrasco Prison Siege in Huntsville, Texas

Eleven Days in Hell: The 1974 Carrasco Prison Siege in Huntsville, Texas

Eleven Days in Hell: The 1974 Carrasco Prison Siege in Huntsville, Texas

Synopsis

From one o'clock on the afternoon of July 24, 1974, until shortly before ten o'clock the night of August 3, eleven days later, one of the longest hostage-taking sieges in the history of the United States took place in Texas' Huntsville State Prison. The ring-leader, Federico (Fred) Gomez Carrasco, the former boss of the largest drug-running operation in South Texas, was serving life for assault with intent to commit murder on a police officer. employing the aid of two other inmates, he took eleven prison workers and four inmates hostage in the prison library. Demanding bulletproof helmets and vests, he planned to use the hostages as shields for his escape. Negotiations began immediately with prison warden H. H. Husbands and W. J. Estelle, Jr., director of the Texas Department of Corrections. The Texas Rangers, the Department of Public Safety, and the FBI arrived to assist as the media descended on Huntsville. When one of the hostages suggested a moving structure of chalkboards padded with law books to absorb bullets, Carrasco agreed to the plan. others to the moving barricade. While the target was en route to an armored car, Estelle had his team blast it with fire hoses. In a violent end to the standoff, Carrasco committed suicide, one of his two accomplices was killed (the other later executed), and two hostages were killed by their captors.

Excerpt

From one o’clock on the white-hot afternoon of July 24, 1974, until shortly before ten o’clock on the balmy, moonlit night of August 3,1974, it was—without a doubt—eleven days in hell inside the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Prison in east Texas.

It was hell for the eleven civilians held captive and subjected to harassment, mental torture, and psychological warfare by three desperate killers in what was then—and is still—the longest hostagetaking of civilians in the history of the United States legal system (the infamous Attica takeover in 1971 lasted only four days).

It was hell for the law enforcement officers making life and death decisions—many of which were misunderstood by the frantic families, by the media, and by the public—as they tried to extricate the beleaguered and terrified hostages who had lived for eleven days under the constant threat of execution.

It was hell for some of the women who stared an ugly death right in the face and showed uncommon valor while some of their male counterparts were falling to pieces with uncontrollable sobbing as they begged shamelessly for their rescue.

And at the end of this brutally true story—after 272 hours and fifty minutes—two hostages had been murdered, two convicts were dead, and lives were permanently altered for many others. the senseless killing of two innocent victims was, tragically, the result of heartlessness on the part of the perpetrators, and of mistakes made in the prison system. These mistakes did not happen because of the procedures themselves but, as shall be seen, in the way those procedures were carried out.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.