It sounds like a bad script from a B movie. One hundred and thirty two prisoners escape from a dusty Mexican jail, through a 4 foot wide tunnel that starts at the prison's carpentry shop.
But that is exactly what happened on Monday in Mexico's Coahuila State, at a penitentiary that is just a few miles from the Texas border.
In a press conference on Monday evening, the state's chief prosecutor told journalists that prisoners at the El Cerezo jail in Piedras Negras walked to freedom through a tunnel that led to the prison's watchtower. Then, they cut the barbed wire that separated them from the outside world, as some prisoners restrained two guards and a prison manager.
Overcrowded jails and corruptable wardens make jailbreaks frequent in Mexico. And while it is rather scandalous, this latest incident in Piedras Negras fails to break the record for a Mexican jailbreak. That grizzly recognition goes to the border town of Nuevo Laredo, where 141 prisoners escaped from the local prison in broad daylight in December 2010.
Piedras Negras is located across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass, Texas. The Mexican military has set up several checkpoints in the area and is offering a $15,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to the fugitive criminals. Mexican police suspect that some of the criminals could have crossed the border in their effort to flee Mexican authorities.
Here are the most outrageous jailbreaks in Mexico's recent history:
The largest mass escape occurred on December 17th 2010 in Nuevo Laredo when 141 prisoners managed to exit the local prison in broad daylight through the service door.
The bloodiest jailbreak toook place this February in Apodaca, Nuevo León, when members from the Zetas drug gang spurred a deadly brawl between rival prison groups as a diversion for their escape. Forty four prisoners were found dead.
Perhaps the most ridiculous escape took place on New Years Eve 2010 in Cancún, when 5 criminals accused of drug trafficking, kidnapping and robbery, simply go out of jail by presenting forged liberation papers.
In each and every case, prison authorities have been suspected of complicity. As a matter of fact, corruption is widespread at every level of the Mexican prison system. It is known that prisoners can easily sneak in liquor, prostitutes, phones and in some cases even guns and grenades. Some drug lords manage to live in luxury and direct their criminal operation from their jail cells. In 2011, a police raid in an Acapulco prison, two bags of marihuana, random electrical appliances, a collection of knives and weapons as well as 17 women, most of them prostitutes.