Hammers and shivs used in Mexico prison riot that killed 49

MONTERREY, Mexico -- Mexico's deadliest prison brawl in many years was a bloodbath in which inmates attacked each other with cudgels and makeshift blades, authorities said Friday, underlining yet again the power that drug cartels wield inside many of the country's lockups.

See Full Article

Jaime Rodriguez, governor of the northern state of Nuevo Leon, said 60 hammers, 86 knives and 120 shivs were used in the previous day's fighting at the Topo Chico prison in Monterrey, where 49 inmates were hacked, beaten or burned to death, and a dozen more injured.

At least 40 of the victims "died from wounds from stabbing and cutting weapons, blows from hammers and clubs," Rodriguez said at a news conference.

Authorities also seized various kinds of contraband items from marijuana and cocaine to televisions and USB memory sticks.

A dispute between rival factions of the Zetas cartel was believed to be behind the violence at Topo Chico, where inmates sentenced for minor offences as well as people who were still awaiting trial were housed in overcrowded conditions alongside many of the country's most hardened killers.

"What we have to see as a reality in the entire penitentiary system is that there is self-rule" by the inmates, Rodriguez said. "All this corruption inside the prison creates the conditions we have today."

That reality was not abstract for Victoria Casas Gutierrez, a cleaning lady who waited for hours for news of her 21-year-old son, Santiago Garza Casas, who was facing trial for allegedly acting as a lookout for a criminal gang.

Santiago was sent to Topo Chico in September for missing a parole appointment and immediately thrown in with a prison population that included murderers.

With their gang ties and access to drugs and guns, many say the Zetas and Gulf cartels run the prison.

"They charge taxes, and if the relatives don't bring a certain amount ... they beat them," Casas Gutierrez said, adding that the payments can run into the thousands of pesos. "Sometimes we have to sell our homes."

"There is vice inside and everything that is in there is their fault, the authorities," she said.

Casas Gutierrez's son was not on the list of the dead, but some bodies were so badly burned it may take days to identify them.

Authorities allowed hundreds of relatives to enter the prison Thursday afternoon. But even those who were able to confirm that their loved ones had survived feared for their safety.

One woman, who declined to give her name, visited her brother briefly and said she saw genuine fear on his face. He was only 10 days from his release date after serving nine months for drug possession. "They have threatened them so that they don't talk about what happened," she said. "Only they know, but they don't tell us anything."

"Who is going to assure me that they aren't going do anything else inside," she asked.

No escapes were reported in the clash, which took place on the eve of Pope Francis' arrival in Mexico, a visit that is scheduled to include a trip next week to another prison in the border city of Ciudad Juarez.

The fighting began around midnight with prisoners setting fire to a storage area, sending flames and smoke billowing into the sky.

The clash was initially said to be between two gangs led by a member of the infamous Zetas drug cartel, Juan Pedro Zaldivar Farias, also known as "Z-27," and Jorge Ivan Hernandez Cantu, who has been identified by Mexican media as a Gulf cartel figure.

But National Security Commissioner Renato Sales Heredia said later that authorities believe the fight was between two factions of the Zetas for control of the prison.

Gov. Rodriguez blamed the violence on "the old, outdated, obsolete system" under which Mexican prisons are run and suggested after having visited the United States that his country may have to move to U.S.-style, privately operated prisons.

"We have to think about efforts with private initiative," he said. "We have not been doing rehabilitation work."

He also criticized judicial reforms that have given inmates greater ability to appeal transfer orders that could send them farther from their hometowns. Zaldivar had successfully fought to be moved to Topo Chico, while Hernandez had won a similar appeal against transferring him elsewhere.

"Basically this is creating the conflicts in the prisons," Rodriguez said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Love in the air: Pope marries couple on papal plane

    World News CTV News
    Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding on Thursday, marrying two flight attendants from Chile's flagship airline at 36,000 feet during a flight from Santiago. Bride Paula Podest, 39, and groom Carlos Ciuffardi, 41, said "I do" after telling Francis that they had been married in a civil service in 2010 but had been unable to follow up with a church ceremony because of the Feb. Source
  • Prince Harry, Meghan Markle visit Wales in whirlwind tour

    World News CTV News
    LONDON - Prince Harry has introduced his American fiancee to a new part of Britain ahead of their planned nuptials in May. On Thursday, the 33-year-old prince took Meghan Markle to Wales, where they delighted crowds outside Cardiff Castle despite arriving an hour late because of train problems as high winds buffeted Britain. Source
  • Vancouver Aquarium will no longer keep whales and dolphins in captivity

    Canada News CBC News
    The Vancouver Aquarium is giving up its fight to keep whales and dolphins in captivity, explaining the heated public debate on the issue is hindering its conservation work. Staff at the non-profit attraction were set to learn of the decision to end the cetacean program Thursday morning, according to CEO John Nightingale. Source
  • Alta. girl, 3, allegedly assaulted, used for child porn by father: RCMP

    Canada News CTV News
    OLDS, Alta. -- A central Alberta man is facing charges for allegedly sexually assaulting his three-year-old daughter and using her to make child pornography. The Internet Child Exploitation unit of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team says information surfaced last October that someone in the province was allegedly sharing child pornography on social media. Source
  • Ont. agrees to end solitary confinement for mentally ill inmates

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Inmates with mental health disabilities will no longer be placed in solitary confinement barring exceptional circumstances under an agreement announced Thursday between the Ontario government and the province's human rights commission. The consent order issued by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario mandates the province end the use of segregation for the mentally disabled across its 26 correctional facilities. Source
  • Wettlaufer killing inquiry: 17 groups can take part, commissioner rules

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A surviving victim, relatives of murdered seniors, and advocacy and health-care groups are among 17 groups and entities granted permission to take part in a public inquiry sparked by nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, who is serving life for killing eight elderly long-term-care residents in Ontario. Source
  • U of G prof accused of mocking anxious student responds to allegations

    Canada News CBC News
    A University of Guelph professor who was put on a leave of absence after students allege he mocked and humiliated one of their classmates has responded to the allegations. "There's two sides to every story," said Edward Hedican, who students identified as the substitute professor who allegedly referred to a student's educational assistant as his "handler" who "needed to control" the student in a class Monday night. Source
  • 'Insanity' to allow nuclear waste storage near Ottawa River, Indigenous groups say

    Canada News CBC News
    Indigenous groups say a plan to store nuclear waste near the Ottawa River in eastern Ontario is "insanity" and want the federal government to intervene. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, a private company, wants a 10-year licence to keep running the Chalk River nuclear labs in eastern Ontario. Source
  • Animal protection group urges B.C. vet association to ban cat declawing

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER - The society that protects animal welfare in British Columbia is looking to the leadership of Nova Scotia's veterinarians as it calls for a ban on feline declawing. The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals wants the province's college of veterinarians to declare declawing unethical -- similar to a ban announced by the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association last month. Source
  • Holly Hamilton's ex-boyfriend, Justin Dumpfrey, charged with 2nd-degree murder

    Canada News CBC News
    Holly Hamilton's ex-boyfriend and the father of her young daughter, Justin Dumpfrey, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder a day after her body was found in the trunk of her car in a parking garage at 95 Barlake Ave. Source