Prison Breaks Have Increased under López Obrador

Photo: Wu Yi/Unsplash


Under the current Mexican administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), the incidence of prison breaks and prison riots has increased dramatically compared to during those of his predecessors, the daily Mexican newspaper Reforma reported Wednesday, Jan. 4.

So far during AMLO’s six-year term that began on Dec. 1, 2018, at least six major prison breaks have occurred in state prisons, and more than 100 convicted criminals have fled their detentions.

In addition, the murders of 36 prison guards and inmates have been reported in various acts of violence during incarceration unrests.

The record of violent acts in different prisons throughout the country includes 26 riots with the burning of furniture and facilities and bloody confrontations between antagonistic gangs of organized crime.

With the evasions and violent acts, the ungovernability of the prison authorities has been exposed, along with their alleged complicity in crime and the permission of some inmates with VIP cells and the use of private cell phones, all of which are supposed to be illegal.

There has also been evidence of severe overcrowding in state prisons.

So far this six-year term, 30 state governments have called on the federal government to transfer thousands of dangerous inmates from state prisons to federal centers in order to avoid conflicts in smaller and less-supervised prisons.

From 2019 to date, 8,740 inmates were taken to federal prisons in response to these gubernatorial requests.

The only two states that have not made transfer requests are Durango and Yucatán, according to a federal government report.

On Sunday, Jan. 1, at the Cereso prison in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, 10 guards were executed by armed inmates who planned an escape with the help of a distraction group that attacked the main entrance of the penitentiary with bullets.

In the fray, seven other inmates were killed by the group that organized the escape.

That group has been linked to the Los Mexicles gang.

Federal authorities later discovered inside that prison seven long weapons used to kill security personnel, in addition to drugs, more than 1 million pesos in cash, 80 cell phones and cells equipped with special furniture and televisions.

Mexican Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said that there had been no prior request by either the state or the prison for the transfer of dangerous inmates, although the opposition National Action Party (PAN) state administration has insisted that such a request had been made, albeit informally.

Staff cuts and poor guard training at state prisons have also influenced a growing self-governance, impunity and corruption within these penitentiaries, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) reported.

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