REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- Dozens of people were killed in a riot inside a Mexican prison Sunday, the latest lethal incident in Latin America's overcrowded, poorly maintained jails (link in Spanish).
By early afternoon, the number of dead at the prison outside the northern industrial city of Monterrey had climbed to 44 and might yet rise, officials said (link in Spanish). Public security authorities in Nuevo Leon state, where Monterrey is located, said inmates rioted in one cellblock about 2 a.m. and the violence spread to a second block.
Initial reports blamed the violence on efforts to transfer some inmates to another facility elsewhere in the country. There were conflicting reports about whether guards were taken hostage and if fires broke out in some of the cells.
Jorge Domene, the state's public security spokesman, said authorities had regained control of the institution. He said most of the prisoners were incarcerated on drug-trafficking charges and related crimes.
All the dead were killed by knives, other sharp instruments, clubs or stones, Domene said.
Last week, more than 350 people were killed in an overcrowded prison in Comayagua, Honduras; it was the deadliest prison fire anywhere in modern history and underscored deteriorating conditions in jails throughout Latin America.
Mexico's raging drug war, which long ago pushed violence deep into Central America, is helping to fill prisons in many cities at more than twice the capacity.
In Sunday's incident, the prison at a town called Apodaca, about 20 miles from Monterrey, was reportedly built to hold 1,500 inmates but had a population of 3,000.
-- Tracy Wilkinson
Photo: Relatives of inmates at a prison near the northern Mexico city of Monterrey attempt to break through a security fence in a desperate attempt to get information about rioting that killed several dozen inmates Sunday. Credit: Julio Cesar Aguilar / AFP/Getty Images