Vast luxuries such as saunas, a bar, food stands, and appliances were discovered by authorities entering a prison in northern Mexico to investigate a riot that killed 49 inmates. Nuevo Leon state authorities said in a statement Sunday that the cells inside Monterrey's Topo Chico prison were outfitted with mini fridges, air conditioners, digital cable, and aquariums. There were 280 inmate-run food and grocery stands where inmates could buy goods. Heavy machinery was brought in to haul away tons of contraband furniture and other goods that authorities had piled in the prison yard, according to the statement, which added that police destroyed hundreds of altars to the Death Saint—some of them life-size. The folk figure is revered by drug traffickers and some people among the downtrodden.
The prison, which was 35% over capacity with 3,800 inmates, had been criticized after earlier inspections for the fact that some prisoners had to buy food at inflated prices from other inmates, the BBC reports. They also had to "rent" cell space from well-connected prisoners—or sleep in corridors. "We knew about all of the irregularities that existed, arbitrary acts, abuses, taxes," Nuevo Leon's security secretary said in the statement. Authorities did not say how long the abuses had occurred or who allowed them. The prison's director, superintendent, and a guard have been arrested on murder charges. On Monday, a United Nations official called on Mexico's government to conduct an exhaustive investigation of the riot.