Fifty-two people have been killed and 12 wounded in a prison riot in Monterrey, north-eastern Mexico, the state governor has confirmed, just days ahead of a planned visit by Pope Francis to another prison nearby.
Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, the governor of Nuevo León, said the violence involved a brutal fight between rival factions, including one led by a member of the Zetas drug cartel. All 52 victims were male, Rodríguez said, adding that they had not yet all been identified. Five of the 12 wounded had serious injuries.
The riot started before dawn, local media said. Television images showed police vehicles patrolling the streets near the prison. Milenio reported that inmates’ relatives who had been within the jail’s premises for conjugal visits had seen inmates with burns, and that authorities were searching for escapees.
Relatives of inmates shook the prison gates and tossed rocks at guards and police on the other side. “I want to know that my daughter is OK. She is in the infirmary. There are children in there,” one woman said.
The incident is the latest in a series of deadly riots in recent years to hit the country’s overcrowded prisons, which often house inmates from different drug gangs.
In 2013, at least 13 people were killed and 65 injured in a prison riot, which was blamed on gang violence, in the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosí. In 2012, at least 44 inmates died in a Nuevo León prison when members of the notorious Zetas drug cartel plotted with prison guards in an elaborate escape.
Pope Francis is set to begin his first visit to Mexico as pontiff on Friday. Next week, he is set to visit a prison in the border city of Ciudad Juárez, which was once one of the most violent cities in the world.