On that prison riot in Juarez I’ve been blogging about (see below two items), it gets worse.
Turns out that prosecutors say that a day before the riot, 30 to 40 women had been brought into the prison for what the Proceso magazine news report calls a “sexual fiesta.”
Four of the women were minors, between 15 and 17 years old.
One of the minors spoke to El Diario de Juarez, a local newspaper, and said she and her husband (that’s right, she was married) were invited to a party in the prison on Sunday. They both decided to go at about 11 p.m.
“My husband said he wanted to go and so I said yes, too. Then I invited my friends,” the teenager said. “They told me it was in the CERESO (prison). I thought about it, but then curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to know what it was like in there."
She and others quoted in the local media say the party lasted all night. Among those in on the party were prison guards and their bosses, the Proceso story says. The minors were presented to the guards. There was plenty of booze, and apparently guns came in with the women.
What triggered the shootout on Monday night is not clear. The party occurred in the cellblock controlled by Los Aztecas (the Juarez Cartel enforcers) and gang members from Los Mexicles appeared to attack them, El Universal reports. But it gets fuzzy from there.
It’s clearer, though, that just about anything goes in many of Mexico’s prisons. Want booze? Pay up. Women? No problem. Cell phones? Sure. Want to get away from the enemies of your criminal organization? Going to prison might not be a bad idea. Prisons are like what drug rehab centers used to be – seemingly safe areas where criminals can chill out, enjoy a drink or two, take visits from the occasional girlfriend and plot drug deals or vengeance killings. It’s obvious why alleged drug lords don’t want to get extradited to U.S. jails.
I’ve been to all the major prisons in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the famed hellhole known as el Reten de Catia en Venezuela that was so bad it was razed to the ground. Certainly the two major penitentiaries in Bogota, La Picota and La Modelo, had suites and special services for narcos. Back in the late 1990s, I visited one narco in La Modelo and interviewed him in what seemed to be his personal snack bar replete with refrigerator and private cook. Maybe it isn’t so comfy anymore. But who knows.
Seems to me the prison problem is integral to the broader issue of impunity, lack of justice and lawlessness. Certainly there was no law apparent in the Ciudad Juarez prison earlier this week, just licentiousness and bloodshed.