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Saturday, December 18, 2010

More than 150 inmates escape from Mexican prison

More than 150 inmates escape from Mexican prison

At least 159 inmates escaped from a prison in the northeastern Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo on Friday in one of the country's biggest jail breaks in recent years, prison officials said.

A bullet-scarred house in Nuevo Laredo Photo: DAVID HOWELLS

9:10PM GMT 17 Dec 2010

"There were 159 inmates who apparently left through the main entrance," an official with the city's penitentiary system said. It was one of the biggest prison escapes in recent years, surpassing the 85 inmates who broke out of a prison in the northern border city of Reynosa in September.

Between January and September, an estimated 200 prisoners have escaped from prisons in Tamaulipas, where Nuevo Laredo is located, according to the state public security officials.

The area is the scene of a bloody struggle between two rival drug gangs, the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, according to officials.

The border area has been the scene of rising lawlessness as drug cartels battle it out among themselves for lucrative smuggling routes into the United States, and with Mexican police and military.

After news of the break, extra police and troops were brought in to reinforce security at the prison.

Officials said this week the number of deaths in Mexico's vicious four-year drug gang war has soared past 30,000, with 12,456 fatalities this year alone.

President Felipe Calderón launched a massive military crackdown on the cartels in December 2006, and since then there has been an escalating cycle of violence.

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