Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mexico nabs 9 escaped inmates at cartel camp

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's navy announced Tuesday that marines found nine escaped inmates apparently working for the Zetas drug cartel at a camp believed to be operated by the group near the Gulf port city of Veracruz.

Navy officials said the fugitives had apparently been sprung from prison to work for the Zetas.

The detentions resulted from a series of raids conducted last week that also netted 18 local police officers who also allegedly worked for the Zetas.

Marines acted on a tip about armed men seen in a rural area near Veracruz and detained nine inmates and five other suspects they found hiding there.

At least 32 inmates escaped from three Veracruz prisons on Sept. 19 in what appeared to have been a carefully planned operation. Police had already recaptured 14 of the fugitives, and others were believed to have been killed before last week's raids.

Veracruz has been the scene of turf battles between the Zetas and other gangs.

Elsewhere in Veracruz, marines arrested a man wearing a police uniform because he was disturbing the peace. The navy said he was a police officer from the city of Mendoza in Veracruz state and allegedly acted as a liaison between the Zetas and corrupt police.

A list in his pocket indicated that local police officers from several towns had received payments of between 2,000 ($144) and 10,000 pesos ($718) per month from the cartel, the navy officials said in a statement.
Police from several Veracruz towns and cities received the money for passing along information on federal police and military movements in the state, according to the statement. All the police have been detained pending investigation.

Also, in the northern border state of Chihuahua, state prosecutors announced Tuesday that they had found three pistols, two machine pistols and an assault rifle hidden in cell blocks at the local prison in the border city of Juarez.

The guns were found in a cellblock dominated by the gangs "Artistas Asesinos" (The Artistic Killers) and "Mexicles," both of which are allies of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

The guns appear to have been hidden in a special compartment of a concrete drainage pit.

Chihuahua state Prosecutor Jorge Gonzalez Nicolas said two of the guns had been used in an attack by inmates from one gang on members of a rival gang inside the prison in late July. That attack killed 16 male inmates and a woman who had been allowed inside the prison illegally.

Inmates from rival gangs are frequently segregated into different cell blocks in Mexican prisons to avoid fights but often come to control their cell blocks.

Several prison authorities have been arrested for lax discipline that allegedly allowed armed inmates to enter their rivals' cell block in the July massacre.

Drug gang violence also raged on in the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco, where state police reported Tuesday that they had found the bodies of four men in an auto repair shop along with two cars that had been set on fire. The men were found bound and shot on Monday.

Police in Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located, offered no information about possible motives. Such businesses have frequently been the target of extortion demands by drug cartels.

And in the Guerrero city of Iguala Tuesday, a confrontation between police and gunmen resulted in the deaths of three assailants after a car chase. Police eventually overtook the vehicle, killing three of the occupants, all of whom were found with guns.

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