Dozens die in Mexico prison riot

2012-02-20 07:39
Monterrey - An inmate riot that may have been staged to cover a breakout killed 44 prisoners on Sunday. The jail's director and all guards on duty at the time have been detained, a security official said.

Nuevo Leon state public security spokesperson Jorge Domene Zambrano said the riot broke out at about 02:00 in a high-security section of a state prison in the city of Apodaca outside the northern industrial city of Monterrey.

The fight between two cell blocks, each with about 750 prisoners, may have been staged as a cover for a prison break, he said. Domene said in counting the dead, officials discovered some prisoners missing, but didn't know yet how many.

Forty-four people died before state police regained control about two hours later.

Cartels

Investigators are looking into whether the fight was started by members of the rival Gulf and Zeta cartels, once the same organisation. Their split two years ago has caused a spike in violence in the region around Monterrey, Mexico's third-largest city and once the country's symbol of development and prosperity.

The prison had members of both gangs, who were normally separated, fuelling theories that the 17 guards on duty could have been involved. The prison director, the director of security and a supervisor also are being held, Domene said.

The victims died from makeshift knives and blows, Domene said, adding that no firearms were found among the prisoners.

Deadly fights happen periodically in Mexico's prisons as gangs and drug cartels stage jailbreaks and battle for control of penitentiaries, often with the involvement of officials. Sunday's riot was one of the deadliest so far.

All 2 500 inmates in the prison were incarcerated for federal crimes, and as many as 70% had yet to be convicted, Domene said. The inmate population grew by 1 500 in the last year to 180% capacity, the result of a crackdown on organised crime and drug trafficking in the last year, he added.

More than 47 500 people have been killed in drug-related violence since 2006, when President Felipe Calderon intensified Mexico's crackdown on organised crime.

Families of prisoners protested outside the prison because they couldn't get information on the victims. Only 10 of the dead had been identified by late afternoon.

Deadly prison riots

The Apodaca prison was also the scene of a fire last May that killed 14. Officials then said the blaze could have been caused by a short circuit, not a prisoner uprising.

The bloodshed on Sunday was just the latest in a string of deadly prison riots in Mexico in recent years.

Thirty-one prisoners died in January during a prison riot in the Gulf coast city of Altamira in Tamaulipas state, which borders Texas. Another fight in a Tamaulipas prison in the border city of Matamoros in October killed 20 inmates and injured 12.

Last July, a riot at a prison in the border city of Juarez killed 17 inmates. Mexican authorities detained the director and four guards over that clash. Surveillance video showed two inmates opening doors to let armed prisoners into a room where the slain victims were reportedly holding a party.

Twenty-three people were killed in a prison riot in Durango city in 2010, and a 2009 riot in Gomez Palacio, another city in the northern Mexican state of Durango, killed 19 people.

Read more on:    mexico

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.