McALLEN — Mexican authorities went on the hunt for a group of commandos who broke 12 inmates out of a Tamaulipas state prison in Miguel Alemán, across the border from Roma.
Shortly after 1:40 a.m. Tuesday, a group of at least 15 gunmen arrived in SUVs and immobilized the guard at the gate, according to a news release from the Tamaulipas Attorney General’s Office. Once inside, the gunmen made their way to the intake area, where they used their weapons to apprehend the shift commander and take his keys.
Of the inmates who escaped with the gunmen, two were in prison for murder, one for rape, one for carjacking and the rest for being lookouts for drug cartels.
Prison breaks have been used by warring drug cartels to bolster their numbers.
>> In September, 131 Zetas broke out of a prison in Coahuila state
>> In December 2010, they carried out a similar operation in Nuevo Laredo, where 41 prison guards were charged with aiding the escape of 141 prisoners.
>> In July 2011, the Zetas broke 59 inmates out in Nuevo Laredo amid a firefight that killed seven inmates.
The Zetas’ chief rival, the Gulf Cartel, also has carried out prison breaks:
>> In March 2010, 40 inmates and two guards walked out the front gates of a Matamoros prison.
>> In April 2010, in Reynosa, 13 inmates were busted out by a convoy of 10 gunmen who engaged guards in a firefight.
>> In September 2010, 85 inmates used a ladder to scale the walls of the same prison in Reynosa.
Ildefonso Ortiz covers courts and law enforcement for The Monitor. He can be reached at email@example.com and (956) 683-4437 or on Twitter, @IldefonsoOrtiz.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.