Governor: 30 Escaped after Mexican Prison Riot

St. Joseph News-Press, February 20, 2012 | Go to article overview

Governor: 30 Escaped after Mexican Prison Riot


MONTERREY, Mexico (CNN) -- Dozens died and 30 inmates escaped during a weekend prison riot in northern Mexico, an official said Monday.

The prison's director and 18 guards have been removed from their positions and are under investigation, Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina told reporters.

"There is no doubt that without the help of prison officials, it would have been very hard to make this escape. ... For us, it is difficult to confirm that the betrayal, corruption and complicity of a few can hinder the work of good police, soldiers and sailors who risk their lives daily for the security of Nuevo Leon's residents," he said.

Authorities are offering a reward of 10 million pesos (about $788,000) for information leading to the escapees' capture, Medina said. Preliminary reports indicate the escapees were members of the Zetas drug cartel, he said.

A fierce rivalry between drug cartels likely fueled the fighting that killed 44 people Sunday inside the prison in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon, state security spokesman Jorge Domene told reporters.

At least two Zetas leaders, including the suspected head of the cartel in the nearby industrial city of Monterrey, were among the prisoners who escaped, according to Mexican military records.

Prisoners could have used the riot to engineer their breakout, Domene said Sunday. He did not say how prisoners inside acquired the clubs, stones and sharp objects they used in the fighting.

Earlier Sunday, Domene said inmates had taken a guard hostage as clashes broke out at the prison. Some prisoners also set mattresses ablaze, sending smoke rising above the facility, he said.

Federal and state police surrounded the prison as anxious family members awaited information outside its gates.

The clashes, which occurred in a part of the prison where most inmates were serving time for federal drug trafficking offenses, might have begun as a fight between the Zetas and Gulf cartels, Domene said. …

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