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Mexican Gov’t Received Warning About Deadly Prison Riot Months In Advance

REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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The Wednesday prison riot between warring cartels in Monterrey, Mexico, could have been prevented if warnings dating back to June 2015 had been taken seriously. The cartels set the prison ablaze, and 52 people died along with 12 others injured in the chaos that ensued.

National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico (CNDH) in June 2015 handed a notice to the Governor of Nuevo Leon state, where the prison is located, telling them that the living conditions of prisons in the state violated human rights states Milenio. The CNDH went on to denounce cartel control of prison life in the state prison system.

The CNDH also stated at the time that it was aware prisoners were facing punishment at the hands of cartels if they did not comply with the systemic corruption of the prison system.

The CNDH cited Topo Chico prison, where the riot occurred, when several inmates were lined up with both their feet and hands cuffed. Topo Chico also did not have a space that guaranteed inmates the ability to privately discuss legal matters with their lawyers, therefore violating the legal rights of prisoners.

The Washington Post cites the CNDH in 2015 stating that “65 of 101 prisons surveyed were effectively run by inmates.” The Post goes on to report that, “Other rights activists have documented chronic overcrowding in many Mexican jails.”

Incarcerated members of the notoriously violent Los Zetas Cartel went to war Wednesday with their former bosses and fellow inmates loyal to the Gulf Cartel. Up until 2010 the two cartels were unified. Pope Francis arrives in Mexico on Feb. 12 for his first visit to the country as head of the Catholic Church, making a point to visit family members of cartel victims.

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