44 Dead in Mexico Prison Riot
Rival drug gangs probably contributed to violence
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2012 8:07 AM CST
A state police officer wearing a face mask stands behind the fence as relatives of inmates wait for news after a prison riot at Apodaca correctional state facility, Feb. 19, 2012.   (AP Photo/Hand Maximo Musielik)
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(Newser) – The death toll in yesterday's riot inside a Mexican prison has now climbed to 44, officials say. No guards were among the dead, but MSNBC reports that corrupt ones may have helped enable the brawl. All the Apodaca prison's guards are reportedly being held for questioning. The clash was initially blamed on an effort to transfer some of the prisoners, but rival drug gangs also likely contributed to the fighting, the Los Angeles Times reports; most of the inmates involved were imprisoned on drug-related charges. A state spokesperson says all the victims were killed with knives, clubs, or stones.

As Mexico's drug war overcrowds prisons with inmates, violence between rival gangs in prisons is worsening; such violence has claimed more than 100 lives in the past two years and has also contributed to mass escapes. The Apodaca prison had a population of 3,000 despite the fact that it was built to hold just 1,500. Last week, more than 350 were killed in a fire at an overcrowded Honduras prison.