More than 130 escape from Mexican prison on US border
MEXICO CITY, Sept 18 — More than 130 inmates escaped through a tunnel from a Mexican prison on the border with the United States in one of the worst jailbreaks the country’s beleaguered penal system has suffered in recent years.
Homero Ramos, attorney general of the northern state of Coahuila, said 132 inmates of the prison in the city of Piedras Negras had got out through the tunnel in an old carpentry workshop, then cut the wire surrounding the complex.
Corrupt prison guards may have helped the inmates escape, said Jorge Luis Moran, chief of public security in Coahuila, adding that US authorities had been alerted to help capture the fugitives if they try to cross the border.
Ramos added that the state government of Coahuila was offering a reward of 200,000 pesos (RM48,000) for information leading to the capture of each fugitive.
The Piedras Negras complex housed a total of 734 inmates, and the tunnel through which the prisoners escaped was about 1.2-metres wide, 2.9-metres deep and seven metres long, Ramos said.
There have been numerous breakouts in the last few years from Mexico’s struggling penal system, where guards are frequently accused of complicity with drug cartels.
At the end of 2010, more than 140 inmates escaped a prison in the border city of Nuevo Laredo.
Northern Mexico has been hit particularly hard by violence stemming from brutal turf wars between drug gangs.
President Felipe Calderon, who leaves office in November, has used the military to try and crack down on the gangs, and has captured or killed many of the country’s top kingpins.
However, violence has surged on his watch, and fighting between cartels and their clashes with security forces have claimed more than 55,000 lives over the past six years. — Reuters