MEXICO CITY — A massive early-morning prison brawl Saturday in the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosi left 11 inmates dead and more than 65 wounded, officials said, the latest in a string of violent episodes that have plagued this country’s corrupt, porous and unsafe penal institutions.
The melee began at 4:15 a.m. in a penitentiary called La Pila, according to a state attorney general’s office statement, with inmates wielding homemade knives. State and federal police officers and some military personnel had the prison under control as of late Saturday morning, the statement said.
The prison director, Concepcion Tovar, said the brawl was sparked by a group of convicts who were stealing money from others, according to the website of TV network Televisa. San Luis Potosi Gov. Fernando Toranzo ordered an investigation to identify those who took part in the fight.
Mexico’s prisons are one of numerous weak links in the country’s criminal justice system. Breakouts are common, guards often collude with prisoners and some institutions are essentially under the control of organized crime groups.