A Closer Look at Cereso Riot

POSTED: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 - 6:37pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:23pm

CIUDAD JUAREZ--- A prison under siege for three hours, now under control.
This latest riot that killed 20 people and injured 11, has become the four-year-old Cereso State facility's most violent act.

"So very often inside the prisons you have these gangs operating that sell drugs. They're almost like a replica of what is going on outside, but inside the prison," said Dr. Tony Payan, a UTEP political science professor and local expert on Juarez crime.

According to Payan and recent history, gangs fighting inside mexican prisons are the norm, riots are not unusual.

October 20, in Reynosa, MX, across the border from McAllen, TX, a brawl at a prison killed 21 inmates.
A month before that, in Tijuana's La Mesa Penitentiary, another fight ended with 25 inmates dead.

However, Cereso's circumstances were different, said Payan.

The arrival of nearly 5,000 soldiers over the weekend, along with their new duties at the prison, may have helped to spur friction amongst the gangs, said Payan.

"To every action, there is a reaction. To the action of the military taking control of the prison system and trying to clean it, there's a reaction from the prisoners that don't want to let go of their guns and their gangs inside the prison," said Payan.

As long as the military continues to crack down on gangs, "... we can expect more violence, we can expect them to essentially try to do the same thing inside the prison that they're doing outside. So things are going to get worse," he said.

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