Durango, Mexico — At least 17 inmates and guards are dead after a prison break attempt in northern Mexico late Tuesday, according to an announcement by local authorities.
The escape attempt happened at the Cesero No. 2 facility in Gomez Palacio, reports Fox News. Durango state Public Safety Department stated that guards were able to foil “a massive prison escape,” reports The Washington Post.
The inmates apparently attempted to climb the prison’s back walls but guards fired into the air to stop them. A shootout ensued between the two groups, according to a statement, which added:
“The inmates started firing guns into the watchtowers and into custodian areas.”
The statement added that the prison was back under the control of authorities but that at least 17 people were killed during the escape attempt.
Mass prison breaks are not uncommon in Mexico, as over 120 inmates escaped from a prison in Piedras Negras in September, just across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas. CNN notes that the dead in the prison break attempted included 11 inmates and six guards.
Violence is also fairly common at the prison where Tuesday’s escape attempt took place. Just last year, a fight at the prison killed 11 inmates. Mexico’s attorney general’s office also claimed that inmates from the prison were let out in July 2010 to kill rival gang members.
The inmates were allegedly let out of the Sereso No. 2 prison in police vehicles. They proceeded to launch an attack on a birthday party that left 17 people dead.
Authorities have attributed the latest prison break attempt to drug gangs trying to swell their ranks as they act out bloody turf battles throughout Mexico. The Sinaloa and Zetas drug cartels are currently fighting for control of Durango.