Death toll rises to 19 from armed attack on Mexican prison

TEHRAN, Jan. 03 (MNA) – An attack on a prison in the Mexican border town of Juarez left 19 dead and allowed a cartel kingpin to escape along with two dozen other prisoners, authorities said Monday.

An armed group, traveling in armored vehicles, launched almost-simultaneous attacks on the prison and the municipal police station, Defense Minister Luis Crescencio Sandoval said in a news conference.

Authorities said the Sunday morning attack had coincided with preparations for New Year's Day visits. They initially said the death toll was at least 14, but by Monday, Sandoval said, this had risen to 19: ten guards, seven prisoners and two attackers.

The attack allowed 25 inmates, including Ernesto Alfredo Pinon de la Cruz, also known as "El Neto," to escape. Pinon is a top gunman for the Juarez-based "Los Mexicles" cartel, Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez said at the news conference, Reuters reported.

Federal authorities were called in to contain the unrest. They later found a "VIP zone" in the state-run prison with drugs and money, said Rodriguez, who slammed the Chihuahua state administration.

The incident Sunday resulted in one of the highest death tolls from prison attacks in Mexico in recent years.

MP/PR

News Code 195688

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