September 18th, 2012, 10:26 AM #1
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132 inmates tunnel out of Mexico prison near US borderMEXICO CITY -- More than 130 inmates escaped through a tunnel from a Mexican prison on the border with the United States in one of the biggest jailbreaks the country's beleaguered penal system has suffered in recent years.
Homero Ramos, attorney general of the northern state of Coahuila, said 132 inmates of the Cereso prison in the city of Piedras Negras had escaped through the tunnel in an old carpentry workshop, then cut the wire surrounding the complex.
Corrupt prison officials may have helped the inmates escape, said Jorge Luis Moran, chief of public security in Coahuila, adding that U.S. authorities had been alerted to help capture the fugitives if they try to cross the border.
Eighty-six of the escaped prisoners were serving sentences or pending trials for federal crimes, including drug trafficking, the Zocala newspaper reported. The rest faced state charges, it said.
The jailbreak is a reminder of the challenges that await Enrique Pena Nieto, the incoming president, who has pledged to reduce crime in the country after six years of increased gang-related violence under President Felipe Calderon.
Many of Mexico's prisons are overcrowded and struggle to counter the influence of criminal gangs that can use their financial muscle to corrupt those in charge.
Ramos said that the state government of Coahuila was offering a reward of $15,700 for information leading to the capture of each fugitive.
Chances are that most of these guys were just cartel grunts and street-level criminals that are expendable - but it's always questionable when such a large number of them escape. Anyone remember when 'El Chapo' Guzman escaped, a billionaire drug smuggler and Mexico's most wanted man?
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