Seven police killed in Mexico prison riot: officials

A newspaper stand shown in March in Mexico's Veracruz state, one of the hardest-hit by a wave of violence that has swept the country

Coatzacoalcos (Mexico) (AFP) – Seven police were killed Sunday trying to put down a riot at a prison in eastern Mexico, authorities said, the latest outburst of deadly violence in the country’s jails.

Police were trying to restore order at the La Toma prison in Veracruz state, but “were driven back by inmates who had seized tools from the carpentry workshop” and were using them as weapons, the state government said.

It described some of the prisoners as highly dangerous.

The government did not say whether any inmates were hurt or escaped, or what the current situation was at the prison.

The facility is located in the municipality of Amatlan de los Reyes, about 140 kilometers (85 miles) south of the state capital, Xalapa.

Mexico’s prisons are frequently hit by riots, killings and jailbreaks.

Criminal gangs often hold de facto control inside, operating with the complicity of corrupt officials.

The office of Mexico’s human rights ombudsman acknowledged the problem in its 2017 report on the country’s prisons. It also found the country’s jails suffer from overcrowding, poor conditions and violence.

Deadly prison riots are a major problem across much of Latin America.

Last Wednesday 68 people died in a fire during a riot in a Venezuelan detention facility. Two of the dead were women visitors.

Veracruz is one of the states hardest hit by a wave of violence that has swept Mexico, driven largely by drug trafficking.

The state is the scene of turf wars between the powerful drug cartels Jalisco New Generation, the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel.