At least 75 members of one of Brazil‘s most notorious gangs have just escaped a Paraguayan prison. The inmates escaped by digging a massive tunnel that was long enough to get past the prison walls. Moreover, the complexity of the plan has essentially confirmed that a number of prison guards were in on the plot, reports The New York Times.
“This is a prison break without precedent,” Paraguay’s justice minister, Cecilia Pérez, said on Sunday.
“This is the biggest prison break from our facilities,” she added.
The facility where the escapees were held is Pedro Juan Caballero Prison, located on the border between Paraguay and Brazil. According to Dante Leguizamón, the president of the National Mechanism to Prevent Torture — an independent government agency that monitors conditions in Paraguayan prisons — Pedro Juan Caballero had long been considered “troubled” by experts.
“We consider it the prison with the most severe corruption problems,” Mr. Leguizamón elaborated.
“Considering the fragility of the system as a whole and crowding conditions, this is not a terribly surprising situation,” he added.
The escape plan reportedly required weeks of digging, and dozens of bags filled with dirt had been readily visible in the inmates’ cells. Accordingly, officials in Paraguay confessed that there was no way in which the penitentiary authorities had not known about the plot.
“We are certain that there was a scandalous conspiracy with security guards,” Ms. Pérez said.
“They had been working on this for several days.”
As a result of the escape, at least five prison guards are under investigation.
#Internacionales— TCS Noticias (@tcsnoticias) January 19, 2020
Al menos 75 presos, muchos de los cuales serían miembros de la organización criminal brasileña Primer Comando Capital, se fugaron de la prisión de Pedro Juan Caballero en Paraguay, donde fue encontrado un túnel. pic.twitter.com/8FLFoT9sX6
That said, the prison break might not come as a complete shock to those following the story. Just last month, Ms. Pérez announced that Paraguayan authorities had uncovered a plot that the gang had offered to pay prison guards up to $80,000 to help a cartel leader escape from jail.
After the prison break, Paraguayan officials alerted their neighbors in Brazil, the home country of a majority of the inmates. State and federal law enforcement officials were deployed to the border area, but Pérez admitted that it was likely the criminals had already crossed the border.
The cartel in question, known as P.C.C., operates the cocaine industry in São Paulo. One of the escapees was David Timoteo Ferreira, a major cartel leader who had been in custody since 2017.
The inside job raises questions in Paraguay about the cartel’s growing influence in the country, as well as the undermanned and underpaid status for many prison guards.
Similar questions have also recently been raised in the United States after many blamed overworked security guards for Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide. Some have even suggested that Epstein was murdered in a similar inside job, as reported by The Inquisitr.