By Sarah Barchus
In one of Mexico's largest prison breaks, 129 inmates escaped the minimum-security state facilities near the U.S. boarder on Monday, the Central News Network reported.
Inmates from the Piedras Negras prison fled one by one through a tunnel 10 feet below the ground that stretched 23 feet from the carpentry workshop to the north watchtower, The New York Times reported. Prison administrators said the inmates emerged from the tunnel, tied and gaged three guards, cut through the wire fence, and walked away, The New York Times reported.
For six years the Mexican government has been struggling to fight organized crime, The New York Times reported, and as such state prisons are overflowing with federal offenders. Of the 129 escapees 84 were federal prisoners, officials said.
According to security analyst Javier Oliva the prison break was the latest sign of an intensifying crisis, CNN reported. Alejandro Hope, a security expert with the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness and a former federal security official, said the administration forgets state prisons in its justice reforms, The New York Times reported.
Officials said on Tuesday that more than 50 guards were questioned about their accounts of the breakout, The New York Times reported, and state prosecutors are seeking warrants to hold the prison director, the shift supervisor and the chief corrections officer.
Hope said the Zetas crime network controls Piedras Negras and that it most likely planned the prison break, The New York Times reported.