Gang leader freed in Mexican prison attack that left 17 dead

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities on Monday raised the death toll from an attack on a state prison in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, to 17, a brazen operation that seemed designed to free the leader of a local gang.

Twenty-five inmates escaped during the attack.

Security Secretary Rosa Icela Rodríguez said 10 of the dead were prison guards who were attacked by gunmen who arrived early Sunday in armored vehicles and fired at the entrance and inside dormitories.

Rodríguez identified the inmates who escaped as part of the Mexicles gang, which she associated with the Caborca ​​Cartel. She said the leader of the Mexicles was among the fugitives. The Mexicles were one of the main gangs in Juarez for decades and for many years were known to work with the Sinaloa Cartel.

The Caborca ​​cartel was led by drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero who was taken over in July.

Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said soldiers and state police who regained control of the prison found 10 “VIP” cells equipped with televisions and other comforts. One of them even had a safe full of cash.

Authorities also found cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl and marijuana inside the prison.

Sandoval said two other gunmen killed after attacking local police shortly before the prison attack were likely a diversion. They were not included in the 17 dead, which consisted of 10 guards and seven inmates.

In August, a riot inside the same state prison spilled onto the streets of Juarez in violence that left 11 people dead.

In this case, two inmates were killed inside the prison, then suspected gang members began shooting in the city, including killing four employees of a radio station who were promoting in a restaurant .

Violence is common in Mexican prisons, including some where authorities exercise only nominal control. Clashes regularly break out between inmates of rival gangs, who in places like Juarez serve as proxies for drug cartels.


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