28 inmates killed in Mexico prison riot

Relatives of inmates awaiting news of their loved ones outside the district attorney's office in Acapulco, Mexico, on Thursday after a riot left 28 inmates dead. State police have temporarily taken control of the prison, backed by federal police and
Relatives of inmates awaiting news of their loved ones outside the district attorney's office in Acapulco, Mexico, on Thursday after a riot left 28 inmates dead. State police have temporarily taken control of the prison, backed by federal police and the army, which set up a security cordon outside.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Violence triggered by feud between rival groups in latest deadly incident

ACAPULCO (Mexico) • Rioting inmates at a Mexican prison slit their rivals' throats and beat them to death, leaving 28 dead in the latest explosion of violence in the country's often lawless jails.

Bodies were found strewn around the maximum-security wing, the kitchen, a prison yard and a conjugal visits area after the pre-dawn riot at the Las Cruces federal prison in Acapulco, said the security spokesman for the state of Guerrero.

"The incident was triggered by an ongoing feud between rival groups within the prison," spokesman Roberto Alvarez told a press conference.

It was the latest deadly riot in Mexico's chronically overcrowded prisons, where corruption abounds, inmates often have de facto control, and contraband weapons and drugs are rife.

The Guerrero governor has ordered an investigation of all prison staff, Mr Alvarez said. State police have temporarily taken control of the prison, backed by federal police and the army, which set up a security cordon outside.

Officials initially gave a death toll of five and indicated that the riot was limited to the maximum-security wing. But the toll soared as police searched the rest of the prison. Three more inmates were wounded in the violence, Mr Alvarez said.

Guards said some of the victims had their throats slit, according to an internal state police report. It also said gunshots had been fired in the maximum-security wing, apparently by prisoners.

Mexico's prisons are frequently hit by riots, killings and jailbreaks. This year there have already been shoot-outs, fires and the escape of 29 inmates in the northern state of Tamaulipas.

Dozens of anxious relatives had gathered, demanding news on their loved ones.

Some shouted at police and tried to force their way through the wall of officers' shields.

This is Mexico's deadliest prison violence since 49 inmates were killed in February last year in a riot at the Topo Chico prison in Monterrey, in the north-east.

Mexico's prisons are frequently hit by riots, killings and jailbreaks. This year, there have already been shoot-outs, fires and the escape of 29 inmates in the northern state of Tamaulipas.

That is the same state where seven people were killed, including three police officers, when the authorities stormed the Ciudad Victoria prison last month to regain control from prisoners who had been stockpiling guns.

Experts say organised crime networks often operate from inside Mexican prisons with the complicity of corrupt officials.

After the Monterrey riot last year, the authorities found dozens of knives, cocaine and flat-screen TVs inside, highlighting the control drug cartels had over the prison.

Mexico has suffered a wave of bloodshed in the past decade that has left more than 200,000 people dead or missing as drug cartels wage war on each other and Mexican security forces.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2017, with the headline '28 inmates killed in Mexico prison riot'. Print Edition | Subscribe