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Mexico prison riot leaves 19 dead

  • Story Highlights
  • Head of state prison system fired as a result of riot, official says
  • Rioting at crowded prison in Tijuana leaves 19 dead, nearly 60 wounded
  • Investigators blame riot on conflicts among drug gangs at prison
  • More than 200 inmates are being transferred to other prisons
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From Harris Whitbeck
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MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- A daylong riot at an overcrowded prison in the Mexican border city of Tijuana left 19 inmates dead and nearly 60 wounded, a government spokesman said.

The head of the state prison system has been fired as a result of the rioting, and the prison's warden, his deputy and other officials were held for questioning, said Francisco Blake Mora, secretary-general of the Baja California state government.

The riot at La Mesa prison broke out Wednesday afternoon, with prison officials restoring order Thursday morning, Blake Mora said. Investigators blame the riot on conflicts among drug gangs within the prison, he said.

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When it was over, 17 inmates had been killed in the prison, he said. Two more died of their injuries at a nearby hospital, and 58 were wounded.

The uprising followed less severe clashes Saturday at the same prison, which houses about 8,000 inmates, he said. More than 220 inmates, including 63 women, have been transferred to other facilities to ease tensions since order was restored.

"Right now, we've taken some measures to depressurize the situation, but there is a significant overpopulation problem there," Blake Mora said.


Authorities are working on restoring basic services such as water and electricity to the prison, and the state's human rights prosecutor is working with families of the dead and wounded inmates, he said.

Northern Mexico has been the scene of an ongoing struggle between the government and drug gangs who have fought battles with rival traffickers, police and Mexican troops.

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