By Allan Wall
August 10, 2010
Putting criminals in jail might seem like a good way to fight crime, but in Mexico even that is debatable.
The country’s prisons are infested with internal crime, drug use, bad treatment and corruption.
Inmates have to depend on relatives to bring them food, but prison administrators skim funds destined for inmate care.
A few years ago, the director of a women’s prison was utilizing female inmates as prostitutes in men’s prisons.
Hey, but at least if the criminals are in the hoosegow, they can’t endanger people on the outside, right?
Not in Mexico, where imprisoned drug barons have been known to run their cartels from behind bars.
All of this is really old news, so to speak. But this year, the state of Mexican incarceration reached a new low. It was discovered that prisoners were leaving a certain “correctional institution” to commit murders, then returning for security.
They were using the prison itself as a safe house, in other words.
The prison was located in Gomez Palacio, a city in northern Mexico that is part of the Laguna metroplex and surrounding region.
The Laguna has been hard hit by drug cartel violence. It has a strategic location, stradding as it does highways which lead to both Eagle Pass and El Paso on the U.S. side of the border.
Apparently, the chief struggle in the Laguna is between the Gulf cartel and the Zetas. The latter organization were formerly the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel but the two groups are now enemies.
It was revealed in late July that authorities of a prison in Gomez Palacio, on at least three separate occasions, had allowed inmates to leave the jail armed, go out and murder, and return to the jail.
You see, it’s not that the inmates escaped. It’s that they were allowed to leave the prison. Not only that, but they were provided with weapons and loaned police vehicles to go and do their dirty work.
Their latest hit was on July 18th, when they attacked a birthday party and killed seventeen.
On two previous occasions, on February 1st and May 15th, the inmates left the jail to carry out murders in bars . Those two forays netted a toll of 16 dead.
After the Mexican federal government found out what was going on, the warden Margarita Rojas (who had previously been named “2010 Woman of the Year” by the governor of Durango state) and three other prison officials were relieved of duty. The four of them are currently under a 40-day restriction order, under investigation.
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But still you have to ask, who else was involved? How likely is it that a prison warden was the highest official in on it?
On July 25th, Interior Minister Francisco Blake said of the Gomez Palacio prison situation that “Today, it is evident that the Mexican state is facing an enormous challenge in security.”
� 2010 Allan Wall - All Rights Reserved
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Allan Wall recently returned to the U.S. after residing many years in Mexico.