Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, July 7, 2014

American among the dead in June Matamoros prison riot

Borderland Beat Posted by Pepe
Families rushed to the prison for information
 Chris Tondre admitted that his brother was no angel. But, he said he is outraged by the amount of time that his brother had been held in a Mexican prison without a trial and by the lack of answers he had gotten from authorities on both sides of the border.
The family of an American citizen killed in a Matamoros prison riot early last month continues to search for answers.

On the day of the June 9 riot, James Tondre called his wife from inside the cell to tell her goodbye, said Chris Tondre, a San Antonio man who has been searching for answers about his brother’s death and has been working to get his 39-year-old brother’s remains repatriated back to the United States.

“He called her and told her, ‘Baby, I love you. Goodbye,’” Chris Tondre said. “He told her he knew he was going to die and then she heard his screams when he was burning up until the line went dead.”
The riot began shortly after noon at the state prison just outside of Matamoros, in the rural community of Santa Adelaida.

“We can confirm that James Tondre died on June 9 in the Matamoros prison. We offer our condolences to the family and are providing the proper consular services,” said an official with the U.S. Department of State.

Generally when a U.S. citizen dies abroad, consular officials assist the family with the various steps needed to make the final arrangements while observing the laws of both countries, the official said.
Tamaulipas state officials have said the riot began in the prison’s central and eastern pods, where members of organized crime groups fought for control of the prison and set fire to the complex.
The officials confirmed at the time of the riot that eight inmates had suffered injuries and were rushed to local hospitals for treatment.

Since the initial confirmation, officials have said nothing else about the riot.

Calls to various law enforcement agencies in Tamaulipas were met with either a “no comment” or with a response that a news release would be sent late last month. But The Monitor still has not received any additional response.

A Tamaulipas law enforcement official confirmed that the riot killed three men and injured seven others. The official asked to not be named, citing security reasons, but confirmed that the riot was a struggle for control of the prison between two warring factions of the Gulf Cartel called the Metros and the Cyclones.

The Cyclones are the forces loyal to the family of Gulf Cartel’s legendary leader, Osiel Cardenas Guillén, and controlled the Matamoros prison under the leadership of Cardenas’ brother–in–law, Victor Alfonso “El Cuate” Martinez Perez, who was killed alongside Tondre during the fire in the eastern wing of the prison, the official said.

It was during that riot, that 39-year-old James Tondre and another inmate ran to their cell and locked the door from the inside for refuge until the situation calmed, his brother said. But before authorities arrived to help, their cell was apparently set on fire, Chris Tondre said.

“He called her and told her ‘baby I love you, goodbye,’” Tondre said. “He told her he knew he was going to die and then she heard his screams when he was burning up until the line went dead.”
By the time the flames were put out, Tondre had suffered second- and third -degree burns to most of his body, his brother said. He was one of the inmates that Mexican authorities rushed to a local hospital for treatment, the brother said.

Tondre’s wife rushed to the hospital, but authorities there wouldn’t let her see her husband, Chris Tondre said. They told her he was doing well.

“They were supposed to call her when she could see him, but five hours passed and they never called her, so she checked back and they told her ‘oh, he died,’” Chris Tondre said. “Supposedly he died from burns to his lungs from breathing in the heat, but it all sounds very fishy.”

Personal background from the Monitor:

Mexican police arrested James Tondre in Matamoros in 2009 during a raid that targeted various members of “La Maña,” a local gang.

The late Tondre had worked with Mexican criminals since 2005, stealing trucks from the San Antonio area and West Texas, then driving them south of the Rio Grande. Many trucks stolen from Texas end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartel members, who favor stout vehicles with big engines to navigate the northern Tamaulipas border’s varied urban and rural terrains.

“He told me that being white was what helped him get across with the trucks because they wouldn’t even look at him twice,” Chris said. “He was the low man on the totem pole but then he began making connections.”

Chris Tondre admitted that his brother was no angel. But, he said he is outraged by the amount of time that his brother had been held in a Mexican prison without a trial and by the lack of answers he had gotten from authorities on both sides of the border.

“We weren’t surprised (by his passing) we had been expecting it for some time,” he said. “He would tell us that he felt like he was in a bad movie that he couldn’t get out of.”

Tondre served time at a Texas prison from 2002 to 2005, records show. After his release, he began stealing trucks and driving them to Mexico for $500 to $600 per trip. While he was never caught for the stolen cars, in 2009, James fled to Mexico after a drug arrest in Snyder, Texas.

Rather than facing a probation violation — and more time behind bars — he fled to Mexico in a stolen truck, evading police during a pursuit, Chris Tondre said.

Once in Matamoros, Mexican authorities arrested him in connection with drug charges and criminal association with the gang, however his case never went to trial, the brother said.

“He would tell me that they kept pushing back his trial and our government never did anything to extradite him,” Tondre he said. “He had charges here for evading arrest, auto theft. He had like six or seven charges, and they could have extradited him.”

After years in the Matamoros prison, James climbed to the top of the food chain, rose through the ranks of the prison’s internal inmate structure, allowing him a nicer cell and the ability to avoid trouble. However in later months, he began to say he wanted to get beyond his criminal history to raise a family with his wife and their newborn son, who was conceived while he was in prison.

On his Facebook account, the late Tondre posted a photograph of his son on June 8, the day prior to the riot. He said he loved his family.

Since the riot, Tondre’s wife was able to get his remains cremated. The family awaits the wheels of the Mexican court system to spin and for a Mexican judge to sign off on the body's release so they can hold a funeral, Chris Tondre said.

“We agreed that half of the remains will stay with her and we will bring the other half home with out family,” Tondre said.

Despite his past, James Tondre will be remembered by his loved ones as a caring man who loved his son during the first four years of his life and was everyone’s favorite uncle, Chris Tondre said. As of Friday afternoon, Tondre’s wife was still waiting on paperwork to be able to bring her husband’s remains to the United States, the family said.

Brownsville Herald and foto from The Monitor


  1. Thats just one less criminal to prosecute..... Not hating but you should have not been there in the first place,... Second if in prison dont choose sides, third if you do choose sides,.. hope you side with the stronger faction.... Not sorry thats just life in santa adelaida... El cereso, also known as the escuela chica... If anyone decides to go down there drive further south another mile and they make real good carnitas,,... In el ejido vanguardia.... Not to be confused with la escuadra.... La escuadra used to be the one and only place for carnitas but they just lost their touch .... Keep driving south well worth it and way cheaper........

    1. Reggie ( whitehorse) FlemingMarch 27, 2016 at 6:24 AM

      I was in that prison.
      I'm from Indiana and white.
      Can't believe dude had leadership in East building.
      The population votes on it.
      I got crazy stories that nobody will believe about that place!!!

  2. Supposedly he died from burns to his lungs from breathing in the heat, but it all sounds very fishy”...

    Well if you can't do the time then don't commit the crime...

    1. He had it coming he probally kidnapped and killed people why else would he be in a Mexican prison so long my uncles got killed last year Worts than this Guy I think the story actually came out in this website last year around March they found two naked bodies in jalisco by some railroad tracks.

  3. Snyder Chase Suspect On the Run

    Police believe he may be headed to Mexico. They say Tondre has ties to a Mexican drug cartel.

  4. This is a very sad story. Although, we all know how corrupt Mexico is..maybe even a "cover-up" to let cartel members out, by claiming their deaths? the fire was a 'smoke screen" for the big story that was going on behind the scenes, a ploy. I hope the wife of the victim can find closure, but i doubt very much she'll ever find the real truth.

    1. Not sad he was a member of a cartel. You do not rise in ranks at a prison without getting your hands dirty.

  5. holy moly what a nightmare. I would be so interested to know all the shit that goes on in these places but that is a true horror

    1. Why don't you go down there,commit a crime,get thrown in jail and you can find out first hand.

    2. But first, watch "The Gringo" with mel gibson. LOL

  6. Hey kids, anybody still want to chose the life of crime?

  7. Do dirt get put in dirt!

  8. At least the family has his body, they shouldn't be crying. It could have been a lot worse for that gringo. He didn't climb to high, he's dead. Oh well!

  9. Um, pretty simple guys. Don't be a criminal, and you won't have to risk burning to death in a Mexican prison. Why try and make it sound like the dude was someone to feel bad for? One less criminal walking the earth.

  10. yeah yeah, a "riot", their fault, they asked for it, period...bullshit...
    no investigations ever of any riot, it is always the prisoners' fault, from murder to rape, escapes, trafficking on drugs and weapons, etc etc etc, it all amounts to crimes against humanity to not keep prisoners safe, and those prison's administrators need to be investigated and prosecuted for neglect to outright derreliction of duty, no excuses, maybe if they know they will be spending time with the prisoners, they will be more careful about being in charge of prisons...

  11. juandos....maybe we should burn the hundreds of thousands of Mexicans is American jails to death as well!

  12. Too bad for him.

  13. Dude hurt his family with his actions. $500 -$600 a trip??? What a joke. Go to college and get a real job.

  14. Free Dr. Mireles !!!!

  15. There's got to be more to the story!

  16. Goddamn you mexicans pretend you have ice Your veins, always until the other foot drops.. why does it take so long for you to get your court date, why even keep the people in jail if you cant protect them while in there.. man I swear you fuckers are so quick to dismiss the value of a human life.. yet you claim to be catholic. You do realize jesus was a criminal in some peoples eyes.. I just dont see how being in a vehicle chase and drive across to mexico would be safe..

    1. Fuckyou asshole come to Mexico and talk shit.


    2. Come to Texas and talk shit.

  17. It all boils down to that old saying, "The wages of sin is death". No matter what color you are, how rich, how poor, how smart or how dumb if you commit a sin old grim reaper will always be right behind you until you commit your last sin.

  18. coincidentally, only US private corporations can handle prisons and prisoners, for a thousand times the money, they can deliver more riots and dead prisoners, but nobody will then admit to any of it, and there will be no proof, it has been said here that CCA has been working on mexican prisons plans, and they will find some work there, with the proper political connections, they will get the jobs, if they have corrupted the prison system all ober the us, mexico can only be easier...

  19. prisoners have Facebook accounts ?

  20. I am sorry but chose to risk his life and freedom for easy money. He could have been shot by the owner of a truck he tried to steal, or stabbed in an american prison. I am not saying he deserved it, but if you play with fire.....

  21. Not because he was white, he was a non-hispanic white.
    Hispanic Mexicans are white.

  22. If this happened in the US the entire Mexican government and citizens would be demanding the blood of those individuals responsible. Two middle fingers in the air to those you with no compassion for this man and the family he left behind. No wonder Mexico is a wasteland of mass murderers and serial rapists. Don't worry the US will clean up that shithole for you. All we need is the green light to fuck shit up over here.

    1. Pinche pendejo! The us has a higher murder rate than Mexico does trigger-happy mothrrfucken country. Clean ur own shithole up first pussy.

    2. This was not a good man, he chose that life. Green light never, and those two middle fingers you know where they go.

    3. If you are going speak on facts get them right first. The US has a population of 330 million with a homicide rate of 5 murders for every 100,000. Mexico has a population of 180 million with a homicide rate of over 20 per 100,000. Do the math fool!!! And that's with the "reported" murders in Mexico. If they used the real numbers it would be like 50 per 100,000. And the winner is Mexico. School is out of session son.

  23. Scum bag, no more Lobos for you

  24. Stolen, new model big pimped out trocas are a regular part of Mexican street scenes... Of course, not only trocas but cars . This has been happening for generations, steal them in the USA and they somehow end up in Mexico.

    Well, duh, the car theft "business" is huge and there are many besides the lowly pendejo criminals involved.... Mexico is so corrupt that you can bet many officials , businessmen, lawyers, car dealers, insurance companies, and cops are in on the stolen US vehicle "industry."

    I know of a case , a few years ago, where a US citizen found his truck ridden by a Mexican cop in a Mexican town. He went to reclaim it and, guess what? He was told to go get fu%ked.

    Tupid gringo, never recovered his truck.


  25. This is el 10:22am. Senor 11:25am I hear you. my dads 1970 F-100 was jacked in 1971 at a Rolling Stones concert. The vatos who were driving it were busted for theft and a LID of pot, the great thing is it wasn't theirs, go imagine.

  26. mexican lebanese mafia had been sending used up old cars to many arab countries for BIG profits, in collusion with the canadian-lebanese bank, and lebanese/american car thief US congressman darrell issa (R).
    -- on the mexican side, the CIA puppet DFS, controlled by the lebanese mafia had been selling A WHOLE lot of cars since before the mexico 68 olympiad, stolen of course, and not all of them were used to make car bombs, but many of them were used to send drugs to europe until the us got wise and the canadian lebanese bank was fined and it closed, about 40 years later...
    --carlos slim made a pretty buck from that, he and his lebanese mafia partners, like miguel nazar haro and his murderous henchmen, no wonder el negro durazo found a refuge on canada when he got out of prison or was escaping, same as the secretary general of the miners union, napoleon gomez urrutia, son of the former miners union boss napoleon gomez sada, another arab.
    --i guess canada is full of crooked shit, and it has never been just the bonnannos or the hell's angels, but the partners of the international lebanese maffia, from the LEBANON country, a country the size of a peanut that has been given 3 billion dollars "by saudi arabia" to defend itself from syria by taking the money's worth in arms to help isis fuck up syria, jordan, iraq, and possibly iran and saudi arabia for all their oil...
    --who would think that a little car stealing on the US side of the border could
    have so many ugly consequences...
    --it would take a genius mathematician to weigh all that in his mind, and come out of all of it the richest man in the world...and el harbano fits the description handily, like nobody else...

  27. Lebanese? You mean Carlos Slim? Richest man in Mexico is by heritage 100% Lebanese. [And he made sure his kids were too.]

  28. @July 7, 2014 at 9:13 PM "Go to college and get a job"

    The internet never hides stupidity. For starters, college evidently, does NOT guarantee you a job. There are millions of people in USA who are college educated, and unable to find their position, working at McDonalds and shit.

    The system is fucked. Why be so stupid to blabber off nonsensical lies that the system has told you? You come off as the idiot. The system is failing. It does NOT provide enough jobs for the population. That's the bottom line, dick.

    Saying "Go to college and get a job"... Let me break the idiocy down so you understand...

    Go to college... Pay for teachers to drill your head with ideas from books.. Get tested on your ability to understand their interpretations of the ideas from books.

    Get a job... Beg for a job, which equates to a small sum of money, pay/a fraction of what you're actually worth, for your blood, sweat and tears.

    Go to college and get a job.. Pay/owe huuge sums of money, for the ideas from books, which you must memorize, to get a job to offers a fraction of the money that your skills generate.

    Simpler: You pay a lot of money to potentially get a job.

  29. 6:02 go to college or don't, if you go to college to party, and to study bullshit, you will end nowhere in the middle of the desert, you need to study your moves, qualifications, interests, etc etc etc, and surround yourself with better people, not the customary potheads, as a matter of fact, college grade should be sciences, mandatory, and language skills, --bullshit should be studied in collidge too, of course, as a hobby and practice in order to recognize and denounce or avoid it, but your chances of making good money without college are very very few,

  30. 12;28 you pass, i guess there were enough clues...
    you don't get rich anywhere in the world if you don't steal mostly all of it
    and some people must rather steal all of it for the hell of it, than for any real need

  31. yeah, yiiha!
    --when you steal or commit crimes because of need, you get caught usually.
    --when you steal or commit crimes because of greed, or for the hell of it, and because of no other human need, you get away with it...
    --it's like, you know, the rich can't be criminals, just because they don't need to steal, even if that is all they do


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