Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Officials: Inmates walked out front door during mass prison escape in Mexico

U.S. border agents are shown on the U.S. side of the border between Piedras Negras, Mexico, and Texas in 2006.

Story highlights

  • Prison director is among 16 employees arrested after the escape
  • Authorities launch a manhunt after the escape
  • Police set up blockades on roads leading to the United States
  • President: More than 1,000 inmates flee from state prisons in six years

The 129 inmates who escaped from a northern Mexico prison did not flee through a tunnel, as authorities first reported. They walked out the front door.

Federal and local authorities launched a manhunt after the inmates escaped Monday in Piedras Negras, across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.

Authorities arrested 16 employees, including the prison director, after the escape.

Politician Manlio Fabio Beltrones said the prison break highlights a larger issue in Mexico.

"The crisis in the Mexican prison system is serious and must be addressed urgently," Beltrones said.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon condemned the escape, calling it "deplorable" in a series of Twitter posts Tuesday.

    "In the past six years, more than 1,000 inmates have escaped from state prisons. From the federal prisons, not one," he wrote.

    The largest escape during Calderon's six-year term occurred in December 2010, when 151 inmates escaped from a local prison in the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo.

    In February, 30 inmates fled after a riot in a prison in Monterrey, Mexico.

    Authorities originally said the inmates in the latest escape slipped through a 23-foot tunnel, sliced through a chain-link fence and ran through an empty lot.

    But they released new information saying the inmates went through the front door.

    "It is hard to believe that they went through that tunnel," said Jose Luis Moran, the public safety secretary for the Mexican state of Coahuila.

    Officials originally said that 132 inmates had escaped but adjusted the figure to 129 after finding three inmates hiding in another part of the prison.

    Police set up blockades on roads leading to the Mexico-U.S. border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection placed its officers and agents in the area on alert, a homeland security official said.

    "At this point, CBP has no reports of escapees attempting to cross the border. We will continue coordinating with our Mexican counterparts as we monitor this situation," the source said.

    More on Mexico: Gulf Cartel boss arrested

        CNN recommends

      • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

        As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
      • Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
      • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

        Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
      • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

        It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.