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3 die in Tijuana prison riot

Inmates angry over the death of a fellow convict protest their treatment. Twenty-five people are injured.

September 16, 2008|Richard Marosi | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — A riot at Tijuana's notorious La Mesa State Penitentiary has left three inmates dead and 25 people injured as prisoners threw rocks and set fires to protest alleged police brutality, according to Baja California state authorities.

The riot broke out Sunday afternoon, a day after a 19-year-old inmate died while guards searched cells for drugs and weapons. Inmates took control of the sprawling prison, which has a history of uprisings.

Although authorities have established more order in the penitentiary once known for its open-air drug market, prostitutes and eateries, critics say the prison remains dangerously overcrowded. It has about 8,000 inmates.

Prisoners ran across rooftops, flew banners criticizing their treatment, threw rocks at police and set fires on roofs and in trash containers. Clouds of black smoke filled the sky over the mostly residential area in the eastern part of the city.

More than 500 police, federal agents and Mexican army soldiers stormed the prison late Sunday night and regained control, said Agustin Perez, spokesman for the Baja California secretary of public security.

In addition to the inmate who died Saturday, three were killed in the riot Sunday. Twenty inmates were injured, some suffering gunshot wounds. Five police were also injured, Perez said.

One guard was arrested in connection with the death of the inmate Saturday.

The prison's commander and his deputy fled and are considered fugitives, Perez said.


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