With the help of top prison officials, thirty dangerous inmates escaped from prison yesterday after a bloody brawl left 44 prisoners dead, government officials in Mexico said Monday.
"Unfortunately, a group of traitors has set back the work of a lot of good police," said Rodrigo Medina, governor of the northern state of Nuevo Leon at a press conference, Reuters reported.
According to Telegraph news, those traitors include the Apodaca prison director, the director of security, a supervisor, and 18 prison guards who were on duty at the overcrowded facility 18 miles north of Monterrey, the state capital, at the time.
All have been fired and remain under investigation for helping in the escape.
"The most important thing is to make sure that the people working on the inside are on the side of the law, and that they not be corrupted and collaborate with the criminals, as the investigations indicate they presumably did," he said.
Corruption among prison officials, in Mexican and Central American prisons, is not uncommon as prison guards are vulnerable due to low wages; they and their families are vulnerable to threats because they live in the same poor neighborhoods controlled by members of gangs that continue to operate even while jailed.
Medina added: "It's painful for us to confirm that the betrayal, corruption and complicity of some could obstruct the service of good police officers, soldiers and marines."
Unlike previous riots, no one entered from outside the prison to facilitate the escape. Rather, Sunday's riot was well planned in advance. Medina noted that without the help of prison officials on the inside the escape "would not have happened."
Jorge Domene, a spokesman for the state government, said the riot broke out around 2 a.m. Sunday morning while inmates were being transferred from one pavilion to another.
Each pavilion houses about 750 prisoners.
He said the Zetas inmates took advantage of that time, wielding iron clubs, rocks and makeshift knives and attacked a cellblock that housed members of their rival, Gulf Cartel, stabbing and bludgeoning them to death.
At least one man reportedly was beheaded.
According to the Kansas City Star, Sister Consuelo Morales, a nun who heads Citizens in Support of Human Rights, told the Milenio television network that some of the slain inmates were disfigured. "Some of them no longer had eyes," she said.
Medina confirmed that all 30 escaped inmates were members of Los Zetas, one of the world’s most feared criminal organizations. founded by deserters from an elite Mexican military unit. All the victims belonged to the Gulf Cartel, Medina said.
Among the escapees is Oscar Soriano Bernal-Soriano, known as "The Spider", leader of Los Zetas in Monterrey. Authorities said Bernal-Soriano is accused of being part of group that murdered retired Brigadier Gen. Juan Arturo Esparza-Garcia and his four bodyguards in November 2009. Bernal-Soriano is also accused in participating in the kidnapping of five soliders at the central bus station in Monterrey.
Medina offered a reward of 10 million pesos ($788,000) for information on the escaped prisoners.
He also asked the media's help in capturing those at large by providing their names:
1. - Jonathan Israel Flores Guerrero
2. - Jaime Román Rodríguez Rincón
3. - José Ricardo Barajas Lopez
4. - Edgar Gabriel Hernández Pérez
5. - Erick Hernandez Ascanio
6. - Gerardo Garcia Rodriguez
7. - Oscar Manuel Bernal Soriano
8. - Christopher Flores Juan Alcorta
9. - Manuel Bernardo Mendoza Gaytan
10. - José Francisco Galván Gutiérrez
11. - Hector Huerta Rousvel Tinoco
12. - José Hernández Cruz
13. - Francisco Javier Macias Bridge
14. - Miguel Alejandro Perez Cardenas
15. - Adam Saenz Saenz
16. - Dario Lopez Rosas
17. - Jose Isidro Cruz Villarreal
18. - Jose Manuel Perez Loera
19. - Rogelio Quintanilla Chacha
20. - Jose Antonio Hernandez Montiel
21. - David Alberto Segundo Villa
22. - Izaguirre Edgar Adrian Ortiz
23. - Cesar Eduardo Sandoval Padilla
24. - Jesus Manuel Santiago Ordaz
25. - Aldo Rios Alejandro Flores
26. - Horacio Silva Garza
27. - Juan Francisco Argüello Pastrana
28. - Ruben Mendez Gastelum
29. - José Luis Guzman Muñoz
30. - White Avad Cristoper Gonzalez