Mexican authorities raid prison

750 police, troops crack down on drug cartels

January 15, 2005|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

MEXICO CITY - More than 750 police and soldiers, backed by tanks, raided a maximum-security prison 30 miles outside Mexico City yesterday to crack down on drug gangs that had all but taken control of the facility.

The raid was sparked by the New Year's Eve killing of Arturo Guzman, the inmate brother of fugitive Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the leader of the so-called Juarez drug cartel. He escaped from another maximum-security prison on Jan. 19, 2001.

Three other high-profile drug trafficking suspects have been murdered at La Palma in recent months.

The raid followed the resignation Thursday night of Carlos Tornero Diaz, the head of Mexico's federal prison system. The prison's director, Maria Josefina Jaime Quiroz, said she hadn't been told in advance of the raid.

Authorities released no information about casualties. Family visits were suspended as the raid continued yesterday afternoon, and federal agents, police and soldiers continued to arrive at the prison in Humvees and armored personnel carriers.

About 90 wives and relatives formed a chain with their arms entwined to protest the measures. Several told reporters they were concerned about mistreatment of inmates.

The newspaper Reforma reported relatives saying three prisoners had died during the operation, but the prison director denied the report.

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