20 are dead and another 25 wounded after a riot broke out in a prison in the northern interior state of Durango. All of the dead and wounded were inmates in the prison. The deaths were caused by beatings, gunshot wounds, makeshift knives, and by some accounts burning. Along with guns and knives, police confiscated a fragmentation grenade from the prison population following the riot.
Jorge Torres, Durango’s Public Security secretary, characterized the prison as a “time bomb,” pointing out that prior to the riot 15 inmates had been killed in the prison in recent months. He added that two guards have also been killed recently. Torres attributed the conflicts in the prison to the presence of both “common” criminals and federal criminals. Federal criminals under Mexican law are supposed to serve their terms in federal prisons in the capitol, but with extreme over crowding in federal prisons, more federal prisoners are being sent to state prisons. According to Torres, of the 1,081 inmates residing in the prison 35 percent are convicted of federal crimes.
In related news, two inmates escaped from a Sinaloa prison shortly following a party inside the facility. Officials first announced the disappearance of Orso Iván Gastélum, in prison since 2005 on a federal weapons possession conviction. Gastélum is a suspected member of Joaquín Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel. It was not until federal authorities opened an investigation into Gastélum’s disappearance that prison officials announced that another prisoner, José Luis Encarnación, was also missing. In all, 12 prison guards and the prison director are under police custody, and Sinaloa’s Gov. Jesús Aguilar Padilla has indicated that prison employees were complicit in the escapes.
From the Justice in Mexico Project’s August Monthly News Report:
“Reos federales iniciarion el motín en Durango.” Diario de Yucatán August 15, 2009.
“Al menos 19 muertos por un enfrentamiento entre grupos en una cárcel de México.” AFP August 14, 2009.
Beltrán, Claudia. “’Facilitan fuga funcionarios’: JAP.” Noroeste August 16, 2009.