Mexico’s Zetas Crime Gang Using Mass Jailbreaks to Restock Ranks; Wardens, Guards Often Help

Tim Johnson, McClatchy, September 20, 2012

Needing to replenish its ranks, Mexico’s brutal Los Zetas crime gang has refined the tactic of springing hundreds of its members in mass jailbreaks. But unlike the Hollywood version, the jailbreaks don’t involve overcoming guards, crawling through dingy tunnels and scattering once outside the fence. Instead, scores of dangerous inmates simply walk or drive out the gates in cahoots with wardens and prison guards.

The jailbreaks, including one this week in which 129 inmates fled a state prison near Piedras Negras, across from Eagle Pass, Texas, lay bare Mexico’s broken penitentiary system, where wardens either bend to organized crime or face death.

Prosecutors Wednesday arrested the warden, the security chief and 14 watchtower and cellblock guards for allegedly letting the prisoners escape on Monday.

A crude 23-foot-long tunnel was found in the prison’s woodworking shop leading outside the wall. But prosecutors say the tunnel was just a cover and that inmates walked out or were driven out of the prison in connivance with guards.

“It is impossible that they all left through the tunnel at once, as the (prison) authorities argue,” said Homero Ramos, the attorney general for the surrounding state of Coahuila. “They’d probably been leaving for days until this blew up and they couldn’t hide it anymore.”

“They definitely didn’t leave through the tunnel,” echoed Jorge Luis Moran, the state’s public security chief, adding that the escapees are believed to have gone to neighboring Tamaulipas state, a stronghold of Los Zetas.

Los Zetas have regained hundreds of gang members in jailbreaks in recent years. El Economista, a Mexico City newspaper, said it had reviewed prison records and found that 546 accused Zetas gangsters or sympathizers have gone free since May 2008.


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  • The difference between European and Mexican culture is glaringly evident. I was raised with instruction like… Your word is your bond, offer a firm handshake, treat people decently, and defend yourself if necessary. Mexican culture is violent and seems to go by the “Creed of the Bandito”.

    I manage a property in SoCal that has a body shop next door. They do a lot of low rider and custom projects. The guys are hard working and pleasant with me, however, I know my place. I do not go around them at beer:30 or when they have big funeral gatherings for their friends. They have a casket sitting outside today that has been prepped and primed, and is ready for the custom mural. This is the fifth casket that I have seen so far this year and I am not around all the time. It seems like a celebration when these people die. Yes, the culture difference is indeed glaringly evident.

    There is a part of me that hopes his business does well.

    • The__Bobster

      It seems like a celebration when these people die.

      Well, I celebrate when they do.

  • Puggg

    Mexican gang warfare now is pretty much the same thing as Indian tribal warfare in the Americas before we showed up.

    • The Worlds Scapegoat

       Is that anything like the genocidal white wars throughout Europe the past 500 years?

  • Puggg


    That from Honduras combined with this from Mexico, and it becomes obvious why Andrew Jackson did what he did, and why Ann Coulter is such an idiot for denouncing it from the comfort of the two centuries later positive consequences of his actions.

    • Oil Can Harry

      Andrew Jackson had gonads of steel. First he abolished the precursor of the Federal Reserve Bank and then he kicked five murderous Indian tribes out of the country, both acts leading to peace and prosperity.

      Ann Coulter refers to him as a “racist scumbag Democrat” but she’d probably defend him if he was a Repub.

      • RisingReich

         A.J. is one of my favorite Presidents.  Called bankers ‘vampires’ and ‘killed’ the National Bank, and ALSO is the only President who ever completely paid off the national debt.

        All that AND he ran the Indians out.

        “Racist”?  Whatever, but not a scumbag by any stretch.

  • Dan

     “but wardens?”
    Absolutely! Prison wardens are politically appointed. Illinois, for example, will probably never have another White director of corrections due to the influence of the Black caucus. Wardens aren’t much different. There have been wardens caught with child porn, theft from the prison system, drugs, DUI’s etc.It’s the same way with the feds and most of your county facilities. Most every area of government is corrupt in some form or fashion.