Mexico: crackdown in wake of Zacatecas jailbreak sparks protests

Some 50 relatives of a group of men ordered detained for 30 days in connection with the dramatic jailbreak at a high-security prison in Mexico’s north-central Zacatecas state blocked the Zacatecas-Guadalajara highway for 30 minutes May 19, outside the local offices of the Prosecutor General of the Republic (PGR) in Zacatecas City. They demanded to see the detained, who are being held incommunicado, and the evidence against them. Among the 44 detained is the former director of the Cieneguillas prison, Eduardo Román García. (El Financiero, Notimex, May 19)

Videotape footage from security cameras show that a convoy of 17 vehicles, backed by a helicopter, approached Cieneguillas state prison, meeting no resistance from guards. About 30 men—some in the uniforms of the Federal Agency of Investigation (AFI) and Federal Preventive Police (PFP)—entered the facility, rounded up 53 prisoners, loaded them into the cars and sped away. Most of the escapees were said to be affiliated with the Gulf Cartel and its paramilitary wing, Los Zetas. It was all over in two minutes and 50 seconds. “It is clear to us that this was perfectly planned,” said Zacatecas Gov. Amalia Garcia said, adding that the guards had evidently been paid off. (La Reforma, AP, May 21; LAT, May 18)

Meanwhile, the local police chief, two commanders and a former public safety director in the city of Tapachula, Chiapas, near the Guatemala border, were detained on suspicion of collaboration with Los Zetas. Police and soldiers seized dozens of grenades and assault rifles during the weekend raid.

In Morelos, prosecutors announced that the head of state security and the police chief in the state capital, Cuernavaca, were ordered to be held for 40 days on suspicion of aiding the Beltran Leyva gang, a faction of the feuding Sinaloa Cartel. Two other people were held in connection with the case.

Back in Zacatecas, prominent former federal senator Ricardo Monreal (PRD) called a news conference to deny any knowledge of a 10-ton load of marijuana found at a Fresnillo chili-drying warehouse belonging to his brother, Candido Monreal. The brother has not been arrested, and claims the lock to the warehouse had been broken. (AP, May 19)

See our last posts on Mexico and the narco wars.

Please leave a tip or answer the Exit Poll.