CIUDAD JUAREZ – On the first day of the new year, a violent prison break left 17 dead, 13 injured and 27 escaped prisoners.
The incident at the prison – formally known as the Centro de Readaptación Social (Center for Social Readaptation, or CERESO) No. 3 – began at about 7 a.m. Sunday when armored vehicles approached the facility on Barranco Azul Avenue in Juárez and opened fire on security guards, according to a bulletin released by the Chihuahua State Prosecutor’s office on Sunday.
Gunfire also broke out inside the prison, where several family members including small children were present for visiting hours. Multiple law enforcement agencies, including municipal and state police, military and national guard coordinated a response at the prison and in surrounding areas to bring the situation under control.
Outside the prison, dozens of family members of visitors, prisoners and prison employees waited for hours to hear news of their loved ones. Some broke into tears as they begged officials for information.
“There are various injured people inside,” Ricardo Realivazquez, chief of state police in Juárez, told the crowd of mostly women as he exited the prison. “While we are investigating, I can’t give any more information.”
Women and children who had been inside the prison to visit relatives when the attack began were cleared to leave around 2:30 p.m. Some wiped away tears as they walked across the prison yard to the street, passing a line of ambulances that waited near the gate.
The prison gates opened shortly afterward, allowing the passage of four ambulances that carried some of the wounded to nearby hospitals. Six other injured individuals were treated inside at the prison’s infirmary, according to the state prosecutor’s bulletin.
Of the dead, 10 were correction officers and seven were prisoners, according to an updated bulletin released by the state prosecutor late Sunday. No details about their deaths have been provided.
None of the 27 escaped prisoners has been located.