Seven inmates were killed and 12 injured in a riot on Thursday at a prison on the outskirts of the north Mexico city of Monterrey, justice officials said.
“We have seven deaths confirmed, four of whom were burned,” in the jail in Cadereyta, said a spokesman for the border state of Nuevo Leon, where Monterrey is the capital.
The seven dead and 12 injured were all prisoners, state security spokesman Jorge Domene added.
Inmates carried pointed objects and set fire to mattresses during the riot, and firefighters and soldiers helped bring the situation under control, he said.
One line of inquiry was whether the riot, in a facility housing about 2,000 inmates, was related to the killing of a prisoner on Monday.
News reports said the riot broke out after inmates learned of the capture of Carlos Oliva Castillo, alias “La Rana” (The Frog), a key figure in the Zetas drug cartel.
Oliva Castillo allegedly ordered the torching of a Monterrey casino in August, killing 52 people in one of the country’s worst-ever attacks.
Domene said the possibility that the riot was linked to his capture also would be investigated.
Monterrey, an industrial hub and Mexico’s third city, has seen an upsurge in violence in recent months blamed on fighting between the Zetas and their former employers the Gulf cartel. Members of both groups were in the jail.
Prison riots and jailbreaks are common in Mexico, where about 230,000 prisoners are behind bars, with 25 percent in overpopulated prisons.
Two inmates were shot dead on Aug. 9 in Topo Chico in the Monterrey suburbs after armed men stormed the jail.
A prison in Ciudad Juarez, in the north of Nuevo Leon, was used to hide two kidnap victims for 20 days, authorities said in earlier this month. Seventeen police officers responsible for guarding the prison were arrested, including four suspected of working for the Zetas.
The Zetas were also accused in the near simultaneous breakouts of 32 inmates from three jails in eastern Veracruz state on Sept. 19. Fourteen of them were recaptured.
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