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Prison battle in Mexico leaves at least 31 inmates dead

January 5, 2012 |  1:55 pm


REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- At least 31 inmates were killed and another dozen injured in pitched fighting inside a prison in Mexico's cartel-dominated Tamaulipas state, authorities said (link in Spanish).

Some of the dead were believed to be accused drug traffickers in what was described as a fight between rival gangs, the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, housed at the prison in Altamira, a small city in the state that borders Texas.

Mexico's brutally overcrowded penitentiaries are plagued by numerous riots, deadly brawls and frequent, brazen escapes by dozens of inmates, often with the guards and even the odd warden in cahoots. By one count, 58 prisoners have been killed in the last three months.

The Altamira battle Wednesday followed reports that inmates in another jail near Mexico City were using Twitter accounts to denounce corruption by officials and, later, to beg for protection after having made the complaints (links in Spanish). The city's human rights commission said it would investigate.


Caught behind enemy lines

Dismembered bodies, warped minds

Police, bus companies failed to act as graves filled in Tamaulipas

-- Tracy Wilkinson 

Photo:  In a photo from January 2010, soldiers stand guard at a prison in Durango, Mexico, after a riot by inmates in which 23 died. Credit: Javier Garcia / European Pressphoto Agency.