Deadly Mexico prison break near U.S. border

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, July 16, 2011 10:36 EDT
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NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico — At least seven prisoners were killed and 59 others escaped after guards lost control of a prison in the town of Nuevo Laredo, on the border with the United States, state officials said.

Soldiers surrounded the Sanctions Enforcement Center prison following a breakout that came after an early morning riot, the Tamaulipas state government said in a statement.

“The situation is currently under control,” said the statement.

Of the 59 who fled, 35 were being held on federal charges, which include drug trafficking and belonging to armed gangs, state officials said.

Friday’s breakout is still dwarfed by a jail break in December when 151 inmates escaped from the same site — Mexico’s largest ever break-out. Those who fled included the prison warden.

Five prison guards also fled on Friday, the statement read.

In March, an inmate had murdered the prison warden.

Last year nearly 350 inmates escaped from nine prisons in the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas, which borders the US state of Texas. Authorities say there are some 7,800 inmates in Tamaulipas prisons, including 1,238 at Nuevo Laredo’s Sanctions Enforcement Center.

Tamaulipas is the epicenter of a battle between two violent drug cartels — the Gulf cartel and the Zetas, made up of ex-commandos — for control of lucrative smuggling routes into the United States.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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