07/27/11 – On July 25, a prison riot located in Ciudad Juárez left at least 17 inmates dead and others wounded. Reports argue that the severity of the situation has demonstrated that the prison is not only experiencing corruption, but also lacks in security measures. Jorge González Nicolas, the northern district chief for the Chihuahua state attorney’s office (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado, PGJE), told C.N.N. that in response to this incident, 44 prison guards have been interrogated and 406 inmates have undergone gun-powder residue tests to determine if they were involved in the shootings. Prison footage shows the perpetrators, who were wearing black masks, threatening a guard for his keys so that they could open doors used to let men carrying arms inside the prison. Reports indicate that the shooters and all others involved in the incident were inmates. A preliminary investigation revealed the possibility that the shooters and victims belonged to rival narco-trafficking groups and that the riot stemmed from gang-related disputes. Authorities stated that they are still working on discovering the identities of the shooters, but the fact that they were filmed with masks on has made it more difficult than expected. Among the weapons recovered at the scene were two Uzis, one AK-47 assault rifle, and three 9mm automatic handguns.
The State Attorney General’s Office has taken over the investigation and thus far their reports have revealed a high level of corruption within the prison. According to Proceso, the PGJE report has hypothesized that inmates belonging to the Artistas Asesinos drug cartel had been planning a massive escape. It is also speculated that acts of negligence on behalf of prison guards and even prison directors have occurred. Some have noted that on July 24, the night before the shooting, a large party involving both prison staff and inmates was held within the prison. C.N.N. reported that this party involved “drugs, alcohol and as many as 20 prostitutes, including several minors.” It was discovered that three minors, all female between the ages of 15 and 17, served as prostitutes for the night. The director of the prison, Lucio Cuevas Sánchez, and six others are currently being held for investigation.