Mexico’s war against the drug cartels rages on and the latest strike from the criminal underworld is a jailbreak in the city of Piedras Negras, near the U.S. border. 131 people escaped, many of them with ties to the infamous Los Zetas cartel. It was first reported that these criminals escaped via a tunnel they made but now it has come to light that they simply walked though the front door of the prison.
The guards and officials in charge of the prison are being questioned regarding the escape. It is believed that they were working with the Los Zetas cartel and that they provided the means for the prisoners to get free. These sorts of breakouts are more common than one might think, though this one was one of the largest. A bigger escape just two years ago saw 141 criminals go free. More than 550 people with Zetas affiliations have escaped in the last four years alone.
The cartels accomplish these breakouts of their soldiers by bribing or threatening the guards and wardens of state prisons. Federal prisons are often over-full and unable to accommodate all the bigger criminals and the state prisons are more susceptible to these types of cartel maneuverings. If the officials at the prisons don’t comply with cartel wishes, they or their families tend to end up missing or dead.
This brings to light some serious issues within Mexico’s prison system. Those who are captured and sent to prison are merely being held until the cartels need them once again, at which point they arrange for their freedom. While living in these prisons, the most prominent of the criminals enjoy extreme comfort, usually fairing better than most of the free citizens of the country.
If this trend continues, the government will not be able to keep up with the cartels. Another foreseeable future could involve frustrated police choosing to shoot cartel members on site instead of trying to bring them to proper justice. Either way, the justice system is under severe threat. Hopefully, Mexico’s new president will be able to fix this problem and keep the criminals where they belong. If not, the country is in for a much longer battle to obtain its freedom from these powerful criminal organizations.