141 Inmates Escape Mexican Border Prison

WTOP-FM (Washington, D.C.), December 17, 2010

Nearly 150 inmates escaped Friday from a state prison in the northern Mexico border city of Nuevo Laredo, and authorities said the breakout was probably helped by prison employees.

The public safety department of Tamaulipas state, where the prison is located near the border with Laredo, Texas, said 141 inmates got out through a service entrance used by vehicles, “presumably with the assistance of the prison staff.”

The department said the prison’s director could not be located, adding that he and other officials were under investigation.

Eighty-three of the prisoners were being held for trial or had been convicted of crimes like theft, assault and other state offenses, while 58 were being held on federal charges, which include weapons possession and drug trafficking.

Tamaulipas has been plagued by a steady wave of violence tied to turf battles between the Gulf and Zetas drug gangs, but it was unclear whether members of those groups were among the escaped inmates.

States like Tamaulipas have said in the past they are not prepared to handle highly dangerous federal prisoners, and again on Friday the state urged the federal government to take charge of such inmates.

“The state does not have the capacity to prevent them escaping,” the department said in a statement.

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