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44 killed in Mexican prison riot

(Xinhua)

09:22, February 20, 2012

MEXICO CITY, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- At least 44 inmates were killed and several others wounded in a riot that occurred on Sunday morning inside prison Apodaca in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, an official source said.

"There are 44 confirmed deaths, all of whom are from D Dormitory," said the Prison Director Gilbert Cesena, adding that the total number of wounded in the fighting among the prisoners has not been counted yet.

Previously, the security spokesman of state government Jorge Domene said that the death toll was 38, but had clarified that they were still looking for more victims in the prison.

In an interview with media, Domene said the riot occurred between 2 a.m. (0800 GMT) and 3 a.m. (0900 GMT) on Sunday due to the power struggle between members of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas Cartel that vie for control of drug sales inside the prison, located north of the city of Monterrey, capital of Nuevo Leon, about 800 km north of capital of Mexico City.

According to preliminary investigations, the riot erupted between prisoners under federal jurisdiction held in Dormitory C and D, which house inmates of low and moderate danger.

During the riot, inmates set fire to several mattresses, while security personnel found several weapons used in the mutiny. Most of the victims were killed with sharp objects, stones and clubs.

The riot was brought under control around 9:30 a.m. (1530 GMT), after an immediate operation with the intervention of the federal and state police.

Domene said he was unaware of the identities of people reportedly killed during this confrontation and the number of the injuries, the second largest riot registered in recent months of Nuevo Leon. On Oct. 13, seven inmates were killed and three others wounded after a fight between rival gangs in the prison of Cadereyta.

He said forensic service officials are moving the bodies to another location to begin the process of identification.

The state official called on the relatives of the inmates to keep calm. They had insisted on entering into the prison to know the status of their families.

The overcrowded prison currently accommodates more than 3,000 inmates serving common and federal sentences and several of them have been transferred to Topo Chico prison in the northern state of Nuevo Leon recently.

This incident is recorded just days after a fire in the prison of Comayagua in central Honduras left a total of 359 deaths, demonstrating the vulnerability of Latin American prisons, where overcrowding in prisons is common.

On Jan. 4, another riot happened in a prison in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas and left 31 dead and 13 others wounded.

More than 47,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched a "war against organized crimes" in 2006.

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