52 dead in Mexico prison riot


Mexico City, Feb 11 (IANS) A riot in a prison in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon on Thursday left at least 52 prisoners dead, officials said.

At a press conference in state capital Monterrey, Governor Jamie Rodriguez Calderon said the riot erupted between two criminal gangs in the prison complex, Xinhua reported.

The riot left 52 people dead and 12 others injured, including five in critical condition.

A fire broke out inside the prison’s storage facility, the governor said, refuting earlier reports that the blaze were set in the prison’s area for women and children.

Gangs led by Ivan Hernandez Cantu, alias “El Comandante Credo”, and Juan Pedro Salvador Zaldivar, alias “El Z 27” clashed.

Cantu is a leader of the Gulf cartel while Zaldivar is a member of the Zetas cartel.

The violence broke out in the early hours of Thursday, when a large number of prisoners took over parts of the facility, provoking a large-scale response from police.

According to Milenio TV, prisoners used furniture and garbage to set one of the prison’s four buildings ablaze, a move likely to be done as a cover to help a group of prisoners escape.

No one has escaped the prison, the governor noted, while admitting that conditions in prisons across Mexico were often beyond the control of the authorities.

Some families of prisoners rushed to the scene for more information, but police cordoned off the streets near the prison. A crowd gathered outside, demanding updates on their loved ones.

“We only want information. We have been here since midnight, we have been asking to speak to the mayor or to anyone who can tell us what happened. We know many people have died, that many have been injured but they tell us nothing,” a family member of a prisoner told the media.

“We saw the smoke, we saw the fire, we heard the gunshots and the screaming,” he said.

At the press conference, Calderon said none of the bodies have been identified yet.