The story we published yesterday, 2/11/2016, about the bloody prison riot that occurred in at Topo Chico prison in Monterrey made reference to several other prison breaks in Mexico in the last few years. The death of the more than 50 people at the Topo Chico prison adds to the following list of deadly events recorded in Mexican prisons since 1988.
1. 22-24 December 1988: 23 dead, including 19 inmates and more than ten injured in the mutiny by 50 inmates at the prison in Tepic (Nayarit).
2- May 17, 1991: 20 prisoners dead and 50 injured in a riot in the Mexican prison in Matamoros.
3- July 2, 1996: At least 12 inmates killed and twenty injured in a prison mutiny in Los Mochis in the state of Sinaloa.
4- October 9-November 11, 1999: 11 killed and 40 wounded in a long riot of over a month in a jail in Villahermosa, Tabasco, caused after several fights and attempts to escape.
5- September 17, 2008: 19 inmates die in a prison in Tijuana before police put an end to a riot.
6 October 20, 2008: 15 prisons perished and 11 injured in a clash between inmates in a prison in Reynosa.
7- 20 January 2010: 23 prisoners killed in a brawl in a prison near the city of Durango.
8- 15 June 2010: Confirm PGJE death of 28 inmates at the prison in Mazatlan after a heavy firefight where they used AK-47 rifles. 17 inmates were killed by gunfire and 11 were deprived of their lives by a knife. In a search operation they found pistols, a "Cuerno de Chivo"", 8 shivs, an ice pick and a sledgehammer.
9- January 11, 2011: At least 11 inmates died by stab wounds during a fight at the prison in Gomez Palacio in Durango state.
10- 25 July 2011 27 prisoners die and twenty injured in a shootout between rival gangs injured in a shootout; between 'The Aztecs' and 'The Mexicles', the armed wings of cartels La Linea and Sinaloa cartel , in the municipal prison in Ciudad Juarez.
11- October 15, 2011: 20 dead and 12 injured inmates during a fight in the prison of Matamoros, in the state of Tamaulipas.
12- January 5, 2012: At least 31 prisoners died and thirteen are injured in a fight at the Center for Enforcement of Sanctions Altamira in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, in a confrontation between two groups , 'Los Zetas' and 'the Gulf Cartel'.
13- February 19, 2012 .- 44 inmates died and thirty inmates escaped during a clash between prisoners from the 'Los Zetas' and 'The Gulf Cartel', organized crime groups for control of the prison in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon.
14- December 18, 2012: 24 people killed (15 prisoners and nine guards) in a riot and attempted escape at the Center for Social Reinsertion 2 of Gomez Palacio in Durango.
15- 27 April 2013: 13 dead and 65 wounded in the prison 'La Pila', in the state of San Luis Potosi (Mexico), in a fight between two rival groups. (EFE)
Alejandro Hope, Editor, Security and Justice, El Daily Post a very respected security analyst in Mexico wrote this after the riot at Topo Chico.
Editor, Security and Justice, El Daily Post
Understanding hell. What is wrong with Mexico’s prisons? Many things:
1. Overpopulation: as of December 2015, there were 247,488 prison inmates in Mexico. The system, however, only had space to hold 208,905 prisoners. To be honest, the problem has been improving recently: in 2015, the prison population declined 3%, while the capacity increased marginally. Still, almost 40,000 excess inmates are one hell of a source of potential trouble. And it is mostly avoidable trouble: over 40% of all inmates are pretrial detainees. Reducing that number by a third (as is supposed to happen when the criminal justice reform is fully implemented) would be enough to close the overpopulation gap.
2. Mixed populations: Mexican prisons are promiscuous places. They hold together federal and state inmates (14,000 federal inmates are held in state prisons), pretrial detainees and convicted felons, high and low risk prisoners. Very few prisons have special pavilions for particularly dangerous criminals (kidnappers, for instance). Drug kingpins and henchmen share the same space with first-time offenders. Not a good formula for maintaining control
3. Understaffing: state penitentiaries employ 25,000 prison guards. Assuming 12-hour shifts, there are 16 inmates for every guard at any given time. In the US penitentiary system, the ratio is six to one (and that is considered dangerously high). And of course, Mexican prison guards are underpaid, undertrained, and underprotected (many have been killed outside prison walls).
4. Corruption: as became clear during El Chapo’s escape, prison staff (even the federal level) is highly vulnerable to corruption and intimidation. Internal controls in the prison system are weak and external oversight is non-existent. Under those circumstances, it is hardly surprising that inmates come to rule the prisons.
But no relevant political actor champions that agenda (of solving those problems) because prisons are invisible. Until they explode, that is.