Esparragoza, one of the five who escaped from prison Thursday. Esparragoza, one of the five who escaped Thursday.

Sinaloa prison suffers serious deficiencies

Five Sinaloa Cartel members who escaped Thursday enjoyed special privileges

Security officials in Sinaloa have admitted that there are serious deficiencies and deplorable infrastructure in the prison from which five senior members of the Sinaloa Cartel escaped on Thursday.

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Meanwhile, 10 senior officers and guards at the Aguaruta prison in Culiacán have been suspended from duty following the escape of Juan José Esparragoza Monzón, 45, son of one of the three main leaders of the cartel, and four others.

Esparragoza, known as “El Negro,” was the subject of proceedings for extradition to the United States where he is wanted on drug conspiracy charges.

Also missing is the prison’s security chief, now believed to have been complicit in the escape.

State authorities also said yesterday that the five inmates enjoyed special privileges: larger cells with reduced security, special attention and special hours for visitors and the privilege of enjoying fresh air outside their cells.

The prison has been without a warden for the past month following the departure of the last one in February, who lasted just two weeks on the job. His replacement, who was among those suspended yesterday, was temporary.

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Of the institution’s 300 guards, only 70 have passed trust and evaluation tests.

The jail itself suffers from a “series of serious operational deficiencies” that prevent it from functioning properly, the state’s Public Security Secretariat said in a statement.

Security measures are weak, there are not enough guards and surveillance cameras and the prison is lacking a system to block cell phone signals and prevent calls by prisoners.

Five-hundred inmates are federal prisoners, of whom 98 are considered high risk. But efforts to transfer them — along with at least two of those who escaped this week — to maximum security prisons have been thwarted by amparos, legal rulings in favor of the inmates.

Source: El Universal (sp), Reforma (sp)

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