31 die in Mexico jail violence

Friday, January 6, 2012

According to authorities in Mexico, 31 prisoners have died as the result of a fight which broke out in a prison, involving alleged members of drug businesses. Thirteen prisoners were also wounded in the brawl, which occurred in the Altamira municipality on Wednesday.

Temporary weapons, such as knives, were reportedly used by inmates to attack each other; a signifcant number of deaths occurred as a result of the use of weapons like these, authorities stated. One anonymous state official spoke of deaths occurring due to clubs and stones being used as weapons. The violence apparently commenced when a number of prisoners entered an area of the prison they were prohibited from entering and attacked the prisoners situated there. Police officers, with the assistance of soldiers, were eventually able to intervene and restore order within the prison, officials reported. Marines are also understood to have intervened.

22 of the prisoners killed had been sentenced to prison for state crimes, while the other nine had been jailed for federal offences, according to Mexico's public safety department. The department provided no further information about the incident. According to Voice of America [VoA], a significant number of the inmates at the prison are serving sentences on drug-related charges.

Although unconfirmed by the Mexican government, it has been reported by Mexican media that the violence occurred between members of the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas, two Mexican drug cartels which rival each other. It is understood by VoA that violence from the Mexican Drug War spreads into prisons frequently. According to BBC News Online, a substantial number of Mexican jails are over capacity for prisoners and often experience drug cartel-related violence.


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