Altamira prison brawl

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Altamira prison brawl
Part of Mexican Drug War
Coordinates 22°20′N 97°52′W / 22.333°N 97.867°W / 22.333; -97.867
Date 4 January 2012 (2012-01-04)
Target Gulf Cartel
Attack type
Mass murder
Deaths 31
Non-fatal injuries
Motive Gang rivalry

The Altamira prison brawl was a deadly fight that occurred on 4 January 2012 in Altamira, Tamaulipas, Mexico.[1] Officials from the state of Tamaulipas confirmed that 31 people were killed, with another thirteen injured.[2] The fight started after a drug gang burst into a section of the prison where they were banned from, attacking their rival gang housed there, triggering the fight.[3] During the altercation, the inmates used several kinds of white arms to kill their opponents.[4] The prisoners also used sticks and knives to massacre the members of the rival gang.[5]

Alejandro Poiré Romero, Mexico's Secretary of the Interior, pledged to work with the state of Tamaulipas.[6] In addition, the United Nations condemned the massacre and asked for the National Human Rights Commission to "monitor conditions of detention throughout Mexico."[7]


The state government of Tamaulipas reported that a group of inmates entered a prohibited area inside the prison and attacked the members of their rival gang.[8] Local media indicated that the brawl was between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, two drug cartels that fight for territory in the northeastern part of Mexico.[9] La Jornada newspaper, in addition, said that prison in Altamira had the capacity to house 2,000 prisoners, but actually had more than 3,000.[10]

Past incidents[edit]

Prison killings[edit]

On 15 October 2011, in the border city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, 20 inmates were killed and 12 were severely wounded in a prison brawl.[11] Some sources revealed that the killings were "planned executions."[12] Earlier on 6 August 2010, 14 inmates were also killed in a riot at the federal prison in Matamoros.[13] Moreover, in 1991, the time when Juan García Ábrego was the supreme leader of the Gulf Cartel, the federal prison in Matamoros experienced the massacre of 18 people.[14][15][16] In the nearby border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, 21 inmates were killed after a shooting inside the prison on 20 October 2008.[17]

On 26 July 2011 in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, a prison brawl left 17 inmates dead and 4 injured after "one group of inmates attacked rivals from another drug gang."[18] Some of the corpses were shot with assault rifles, and authorities investigates whether the weapons used in the attack were "stolen from prison guards, homemade or smuggled" inside the prison.[19] Surveillance videos show how two gangs of the Sinaloa Cartel and the Juárez Cartel stormed the prison with assault rifles.[20]

On 19 February 2012, in the city of Apodaca, Nuevo León, 44 were killed and 12 were injured in a prison riot; the brawl was, according to local authorities, between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, their former allies.[21] In the state of Durango, 19 inmates were killed in the prison of Gómez Palacio on 25 August 2009;[22] in the same prison on 21 January 2010, about 23 inmates were killed in a brawl.[23] On 19 May 2011, a shooting inside a prison in Durango left 8 prisoners dead,[24] and on 15 November 2010 a group of gunmen threw a grenade inside the prison.[25] In Tijuana, Baja California on 18 September 2008, nearly 19 inmates were killed in a brawl between rival drug cartel members.[26]

In Mazatlán, Sinaloa on 14 June 2010, a group of gunmen entered a prison, killed the guard, then entered a cell and massacred 29 people.[27]


  1. ^ "Mexico Prison Fight: 31 Killed In Altamira". The Huffington Post. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  2. ^ (in Spanish) "Pelea entre presos deja 31 muertos en México". BBC News. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "31 killed in Mexican prison fight between rival drug gangs". The Global Post. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  4. ^ (in Spanish) "Riña en penal de Altamira, Tamaulipas, deja 31 muertos". Televisa. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  5. ^ (in Spanish) "Confirman 31 internos muertos en penal de Altamira". Terra Networks. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  6. ^ (in Spanish) "Batalla en penal de Altamira deja 31 muertos y 13 heridos". Milenio. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  7. ^ (in Spanish and English) "Palabras de la Portavoz de la Sra. Navi Pillay, Alta Comisionada de la ONU-DH sobre los hechos del pasado domingo en el reclusorio de Apodaca Nuevo León" (PDF). El Universal. 21 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  8. ^ (in Spanish) "COMUNICADO DE LA SECRETARIA DE SEGURIDAD PÚBLICA DEL ESTADO". Gobierno del Estado de Tamaulipas, México. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  9. ^ (in Spanish) "Confirman 31 muertos en cárcel mexicana". TeleSUR. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  10. ^ "31 internos muertos y 13 heridos tras una riña en el reclusorio de Altamira". La Jornada. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  11. ^ Chapa, Sergio (15 October 2011). "20 inmates killed, 12 wounded in Matamoros prison brawl". Valley Central. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "Prison riot in Matamoros kills 20; shootouts reported in Reynosa". The Monitor. 16 October 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Chapa, Sergio (8 August 2010). "14 prisoners killed in Matamoros prison brawl". Valley Central. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  14. ^ (in Spanish) Pérez González, Jorge (22 February 2009). "Mentes perversas". Hoy Tamaulipas. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  15. ^ Vindell, Tony (24 January 1996). "El Profe welcomes Garcia Abrego's downfall". The Brownsville Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  16. ^ Althaus, Dudley (2009). "Texas-Mexico Borderlands: The Slide Toward Chaos" (PDF). The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education. 12 (10974911): 57. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  17. ^ "Mexico jail riot 'leaves 21 dead'". BBC News. 20 October 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "Mexico prison shooting: 17 dead in Ciudad Juarez clash". BBC News. 26 July 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "Many killed in Mexico prison violence". Al Jazeera. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  20. ^ (in Spanish) "Al menos 17 personas mueren durante un motín en una prisión de Juárez". CNNMexico. 26 July 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  21. ^ "Monterrey prison riot covers mass escape by gang members". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  22. ^ (in Spanish) "Riña en el penal de Gómez Palacio; 19 muertos". La Jornada. 15 Augusto 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  23. ^ (in Spanish) "Riña en penal de Durango deja 23 muertos; no descartan ejecuciones". La Jornada. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  24. ^ (in Spanish) "Una balacera en un penal de Durango deja ocho reos muertos y 11 heridos". CNNMexico. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  25. ^ (in Spanish) "Un grupo de hombres ataca con granada a penal de Durango". CNNMexico. 15 November 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  26. ^ (in Spanish) "Confirman 19 muertos por motín en cárcel de Tijuana". El Universal. 18 September 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  27. ^ (in Spanish) "Suman 29 los reos muertos por violencia en el penal de Mazatlán". CNNMexico. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 

See also[edit]