Friday, March 26, 2010

Mexico investigates escape of 41 inmates

Mexico investigates escape of 41 inmates

March 26, 2010 10:07 PM


Federal authorities in Mexico have taken over the investigation regarding the escape of 41 inmates from a Matamoros prison.

Special agents with Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) were sent Friday to the Matamoros Detention Center — CEDES formerly known as CERESO — to work together with Tamaulipas State Police and Mexican marines, said a PGR press release.

On Thursday between 4 and 5 a.m., 41 inmates and two guards fled from the CEDES, which is located approximately 15 miles from Brownsville in the rural community of Santa Adelaida.

On Friday morning, 50 employees of the CEDES were bused to the PGR offices on Sixth Street in Matamoros where they gave their depositions on the case.

According to State Security Secretary Jose Ives Soberón Tijerina, 38 of the escaped inmates were federal wards, while the other three were state  inmates.

The PGR said that five of the inmates had already been sentenced, while the rest were still taking part in the Mexican court system.

The two prison guards who aided the inmates in the escape are identified as Jose Angel Reyes Segovia and Agapito Uvalle Escalante. They remain at-large along with the 41 escapees.

As a result of the breakout, Soberón Tijerina fired the CEDES director Jaime Cano Gallardo and the state director for the detention centers, Orlando Sauceda Pinta.

"They (the officials) are subject to an investigation," Soberón Tijerina said.

According to the PGR, many of the gunmen arrested in recent firefights between the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel were being held in the Matamoros CEDES under federal charges.

As of press time Friday it couldn’t be confirmed if the escapees belonged to any of the criminal organizations, however, U.S. law enforcement agencies were placed on alert, officials said.

"Through proper staffing and coordination we remain vigilant in maintaining a strong operational posture while still providing safe and legitimate trade and travel at our port of entry," said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Eddie Perez. "As Secretary Janet Napolitano conveyed directly to Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Mexico has the full support of the Department of Homeland Security in cracking down on powerful transnational drug cartels. Our two nations have a shared responsibility to keep the pressure on and continue to protect our citizens on both sides of the border."

Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said his staff has been holding regular meetings with the Border Security Task Force, which is comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, in order to fine tune their contingency plans to prevent any violence spillover.

"We have coordinated our agencies to respond to any given threat," Lucio said. "As part of our contingency plan, our SWAT team can respond to any situation within 15 minutes. "

Brownsville police spokesman Sgt. Jimmy Manrrique said the department works closely with their Mexican counterparts and are monitoring the situation in order to respond to any threat.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said Thursday that as a response to the ongoing drug violence in Mexico, they are coordinating intelligence and manpower with 43 sheriff’s departments and 39 police departments.

The effort is designed to increase their patrol on the border areas and act as a deterrent for any spillover, McCraw said.

DPS has also deployed 15 state of the art helicopters with night vision throughout the border.

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