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

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Juárez Prison Break: Multiple 'VIP' Cells Found After 17 People Were Killed

"Morogris" and "HEARST" for Borderland Beat

Visitors are cleared to leave the CERESO No. 3 in Juárez more than seven hours after a prison break on Sunday, Jan. 1, left 13 injured and 17 dead. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

17 people were killed and 25 inmates escaped from the Social Readaptation Center (CERESO) No. 3 in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, across the US-Mexico border from El Paso, Texas, following a large riot on New Year's Day.

Investigators say that among the dead were ten prison guards and seven inmates. They confirmed that one high-ranking gang members from Los Mexicles escaped: Ernesto Alfredo Piñón De la Cruz AKA "El Neto", an eye patch-wearing gang boss who was imprisoned since 2010 and had a 244-year sentence for kidnapping and murder.

The prison warden Alejandro Alvarado Tellez and other staff members were fired and are now under investigation after authorities discovered that several gang members in prison had VIP cells where they held parties. Inside those cells they found liquor, drugs, weapons, and other contraband.

Last August, Alvarado Tellez was hired to replace the previous warden after a prison riot left three inmates dead and sparked a wave of attacks throughout Ciudad Juarez in a day known as "Black Thursday".

Authorities in Juárez remained on edge for over 48 hours after a series of gunfights broke out throughout the city while they searched for the 25 escapees. The US Consulate in Juarez cancelled all appointments on Tuesday and instructed their staff to stay at home due to the shootouts.

Two Chihuahua state police officers and five gangsters were killed in a confrontation Monday night as violence spread through the city.

VIP Cells

When the Mexican military retook control of the prison, they found at least 10 VIP cells nicely decorated with televisions and other comforts. One of the cells owned by El Neto had a safe with approximately 1.7 million pesos (approximately US$88,000).

Authorities also found a wealth of contraband, including 84 cellphones, 285 bags of crystal methamphetamine (with a total of nearly 9 pounds of crystal meth), along with hundreds of packets of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and eight fentanyl pills.

Contraband found in the VIP cells (image: Diario de Juarez)

This revelation caused more uproar across the Mexican media and questions have surfaced on how the Juarez prison was run and who was actually in charge.

A video released by El Diario de Juárez showed El Neto and other inmates hosting a party inside the prison. They had booze and even hired a music band to play. Reportedly, they were celebrating the Dia Mexicle (Mexicle Day). El Neto was the only one wearing civilian clothes; the rest of the inmates were in prison garments.

The Context You Need on The Groups in Juarez

Juárez has two large cartel forces at war within it: the Sinaloa Cartel and La Linea. It's worth noting that Linea has an alliance with the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), according to the state’s Secretary of Security, and because of this alliance the CJNG appears to maintain a very hands off approach when it comes to the state of Chihuahua.

Now within Juárez, much like within Tijuana, there are a number of street gangs and smaller cells of hitmen who work under one of the large cartel forces.

These smaller entities will sometimes “switch sides” or rather, change which large cartel force they work under. The smaller entities can sometimes divide into warring factions within themselves or fight against other street gangs that work for the same larger cartel force as they do who are ostensibly their allies.

District Attorney Manuel Carrasco Chacón described it, saying "The situation of groups and gangs in the city is not very legible, so to speak. Years ago it was very marked, however, we can see that these groups have been deserting and many people are taking advantage of the situation. A river in turmoil is the fisherman's gain', but we continue to see the same people.”

The District Attorney named the following four smaller entities as the most important and relevant within Juárez:

        Los Mexicles - works under the Sinaloa Cartel, divided

        Artistas Asesinos - works under the Sinaloa Cartel

        Los Aztecas  - works under La Línea

        La Nueva Empresa  - works under La Línea

He went on to say that both Los Mexicles and Artistas Asesinos are currently believed to be working under the Sinaloa Cartel, while La Nueva Empresa and Aztecas work under La Línea.

10 Prison Guards Killed

The Chihuahua State Attorney General's Office (FGE) lamented the death of the 10 prison guards killed in the attack. They confirmed that the guards had their weapons taken away before they were "executed" by cartel members. 

Their names were Manuel Rodríguez Soria, Carlos Santiago Padilla Silva, Abel Juárez Hernández, Víctor Hugo Rivera Meráz, Carlos Ernesto Salinas Bañuelos, José Ausencio Pérez Sifuentes, Jaime Arciniega Alvarado, Guadalupe Gámez Galán, Domingo Trébol Serrano and Edgar Omar Hernández García.

Sources: Diario de Juarez (full coverage); El Paso Times; Borderland Beat archives

Relevant BB stories: El Neto Escape; Escapees Details (by "Mica")


  1. Only 17 dead , too bad ...should of been 117

  2. Worth noting that Juarez cartel isn't mentioned at all

    1. La línea is the Juarez Cartel, you hear more la línea then people saying cartel de juarez here locally

    2. It was said linea broke off Juarez cartel

    3. La linea and ncdj really the same thing

    4. Por q no fueron los linieros los q hicieron esto

  3. It's like that In every Mexican prison but people act like they are surprised to see prisoners living like kings haha

  4. This article confuses street gangs with prison gangs.
    Street gangs do not operate for or against cartels.
    Prison gangs do operate with cartels to gain power inside and outside of prisons.
    Most prison gang would be members can only join the gang inside prison and once in the gang it's a blood in blood out situation.
    Street gangs do not have that mentality.

    1. wrong... its mixed. street gangs work for major cartels too, often as "franchises" or with their support. think of it as their "resellers" in the field, ground level. prison gangs are sometimes an extension of these street gangs.

    2. Some street gangs do sell drugs but are not directly under cartel influence. At least in Mexico.
      Most prison gangs in Mexico work semi independent of cartels meaning they can sell their own drugs or for the cartels as well as their member can be hitmen for these.
      Street gangs in Mexico do not do this.
      In the U.S. prison gangs can have members working in and outside prisons but do not work directly for the cartels.
      Street gangs I the U.S. work under the shadow of prison gangs most of the time like the sureños gangs of LA. and can sell drugs independent of cartels.

    3. No madre güey! Gangs o bandas de criminales fight for anyone paying best with armas, cheap cristal y cocaína and gob protection. I do not know if USA is different but that is how Juárez, Tijuana and bandas de barrios behave in all plazas contested en Mexico

    4. 6:09 si si ya se save que las banda's Mexicans le venden las nalgas a el mejor postor.

    5. No Madre guey,
      You don't know how how the US is? Your blogger profile say you went to 6-8 grade in Dallas. Are you in 9th grade now?

    6. 6:16 & 7:04 It is amusing to you get mad when your original post (that makes no sense) gets smoked.
      6:09 Thanks for a Mexican prospective! Your perspective is consistent with what I've been reading on BB for years.

    7. 3:52 what you read is BB is mostly American perspective and more so the comments.

    8. 3:52 BB articles are not American perspective, but Mexican news translated to English. Comments however are primarily American perspective and conjecture, that's why a Mexican perspective is refreshing.

    9. 6:09 that’s exactly how it is in America as well. Whoever pays the most. That’s where the loyalty lies. It’s money motivated through and through. Anyone else says different are just talking.

    10. 9:05 “Street gangs do not have that mentality.”. Seriously?? 6:09 is right. Criminals have one loyalty. Themselves. Who pays most or is a safer bet they go with. You make it sound like street gangs and prison gangs are two diff species.

  5. On the site they say that 4050kgs of meth 16200kgs of coke and 1500 kgs of black also 88000$ us were found so were they stashing them in the jail? Or were they bing cut and repackaged

    1. Where’d you get these exaggerated numbers from?8 tons of coke! Lmao

    2. What you expect I only got a 6 grade education.

    3. 10:57
      What you expect I only got a 6 grade education. I had to work the fields picking lemons, so you can made lemonade.

  6. Is true RCQ escaped also seen an article from Washington examiner saying he did


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