Forty-nine people died in the riot Thursday at the Topo Chico penitentiary in Nuevo León, but four of them were neither inmates nor staff.
Authorities admitted yesterday they don’t know who they are or how they got there.
The riot, apparently triggered by rivalry between two leaders of the Los Zetas cartel fighting for control within the jail, was quelled within two hours but not before 49 inmates were killed and 12 injured.
Also yesterday, the warden and two other employees of the prison, located in Monterrey, were arrested, according to a report by Milenio.
Nuevo León Attorney General Roberto Flores Treviño said three employees in the state’s Public Security Secretariat had been taken into custody in connection with the riot, but did not identify them.
However, sources in the secretariat told Milenio they were warden Gregoria Salazar, deputy superintendent Fernando Domínguez Jaramillo and a guard who allegedly fired a gun during the incident, killing a prisoner.
The three are being held on suspicion of homicide and abuse of authority.
Flores Treviño said 40 of the victims have been identified and their bodies turned over to their families. Of the remaining nine, five were burned beyond recognition and the other four are not registered as prisoners.
The Attorney General described the situation as “extremely irregular” and said an investigation is under way to determine who they are.
A search of the jail has turned up half a kilogram of marijuana, cocaine and other drugs, 60 hammers, 400 lighters, 28 pliers and 86 knives, among other items.
In an interview on Radio Fórmula, Flores Treviño said the fighting began when Juan Pedro Saldívar Farías, known as “El Z-27,” mobilized a group of prisoners to attack rival Zeta leader César Iván Hernández Cantú but they failed to reach his cell.
As the riot began at about 11:30pm Wednesday, the latter was in his “luxury cell, very comfortable,” lying on his king-size bed with a woman, Flores Treviño said.
Where the two Zetas leaders are now wasn’t revealed, but they were not among the dead. Early yesterday, 166 men and 30 women were removed from the jail and transferred to various federal prisons. Thirty-seven had already been removed on Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, several family members of Topo Chico inmates have charged that police have tortured and abused prisoners in their quest for information about the riot. They claim they have been beaten in a manner that doesn’t leave bruises, deprived of their belongings, including clothing and bedding, and denied food.
Some said that for years prisoners have been required to pay a quota of 1,500 pesos (US $79) a week to prevent being tortured by criminal gang members who controlled the prison.
Two United Nations agencies in Mexico have called on Mexican authorities to address “the grave situation” that exists in the country’s prisons.
Pope Francis, before arriving in Mexico yesterday evening, sent his condolences to the families of the victims of the Topo Chico riot.