A Mexico prison riot erupted near Monterrey, accompanied by fires and deaths. Fifty-two have been reported among the deceased, and families are demanding answers about their loved ones.
In Topo Chico Prison last night, a fight broke out overnight between rival gang leaders, just before Pope Francis was scheduled to visit Mexico. His stops include Ciudad Juarez, a city which CNN says is recovering after having been called the murder capital of the world.
Flames rose from the prison in local video footage, having been allegedly set by inmates as the rival gang factions clashed, spurring a violent uprising. Nuevo Leon state Governor Jaime Rodriguez claims the fires affected two prison units, and originated in the prison's storage rooms.
It is unknown what may have been in those storage rooms to make them a target for arson.
Everything started at around half an hour prior to midnight, and was under control two hours later. Aside from the 52 dead, 12 others were injured, and five were reported to be in critical condition. Family members related to some of the inmates involved in the Mexico prison riot are demanding answers, wondering about their fate. The government has not yet identified the dead, and concerned family members will need to wait on answers.
According to witnesses, inmates who weren't involved in the gangs had been pulled into the violence. One woman said her son managed to call her from inside the prison, admitting he'd taken refuge in the women's wing, and claiming "they want to kill us all."
This woman wasn't the only one with a similar story about her son taking shelter in the women's wing.
This isn't the first time the prison has seen trouble, either. In February, 2012, Topo Chico Prison played host to three stabbing deaths of inmates. That same month, another prison near Monterrey was discovered to have seen 44 dead, as 30 inmates had escaped. The director of that prison was later fired. The area is allegedly heavy with gang leaders and drug cartels, and the prisons have once again become a violent reflection of these problems.
52 people killed in Topo Chico prison riot in northern Mexico, Nuevo Leon's governor says. https://t.co/s3G6sWii6c pic.twitter.com/ydQIcOc7gABBC News points out that the Mexico prison riot may have also been the result of overcrowding, with some prisoners sleeping in corridors outside the cells. With the Los Zetas and Gulf cartels plaguing the area, crime is apparently rather high.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) February 11, 2016
Juan Pedro Zaldivar Farias, also known as Z-27, is the leader of the prison's Zetas cartel, says Governor Jaime Rodriguez, while Jorge Ivan Hernandez Cantu led the Gulf cartel. Whether these two were among the dead is not yet known, but reports confirm that all of the dead are male, and no guns were used.
This coincides with some prisoners taking refuge in the women's wing during the Mexico prison riot.
Authorities including security spokesman Antonio Arguello stated for the local press that the facility had been cordoned off, and none of the Topo Chico Prison inmates escaped in the chaos. The violence had been contained and stopped, though authorities still don't know the identities of the dead after the riot.
One woman said that there are children among the possible casualties of the Mexico prison riot, and has demands of her own. "I want to know that my daughter is OK. She is in the infirmary."
Sadly, this is only the worst of what apparently happens too often in the Monterrey area. Prison violence and fights break out all the time according to the BBC, due to the facilities being "overcrowded and corrupt."
As the aftermath dies down and the dead are identified from the Mexico prison riot, loved ones still await news of the potentially tragic fate of their relatives.
[Image via crazystocker/Shutterstock.com]