Armed men rammed vehicles into a Hidalgo prison and freed nine inmates early Wednesday, state authorities said.
Aided by the detonation of two apparent car bombs in nearby streets, the audacious jailbreak occurred at approximately 4:00 a.m. at a prison in Tula, located about 100 kilometers north of Mexico City.
Local media reports said the vehicle used to ram down the prison door was loaded with dynamite.
One of the freed inmates was the alleged head of a fuel theft gang called Pueblos Unidos. José Artemio Maldonado Mejía, known as “El Michoacano,” was arrested in México state last week on fuel theft, kidnapping, homicide and drug trafficking charges.
The Hidalgo Security Ministry said in a statement that there were clashes between the armed men and prison personnel, adding that two police officers were injured and were receiving medical care. It also said that municipal, state and federal security forces were engaged in an operation to detain the gang members and escaped inmates.
Hidalgo Interior Minister Simón Vargas said “an armed group burst into the prison aboard several vehicles,” adding that “it’s worth noting that near the prison, two vehicles were burned as part of the criminal group’s operation, as a distraction.”
The use of car bombs by Mexican criminal organizations is rare but one such attack in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, in 2010, killed three people. In 2019, explosive devices were found in a vehicle left outside the Pemex refinery in Salamanca, Guanajuato.
While car bombs are rare, cartels frequently set vehicles alight to hinder police operations. So-called narco-blockades have been seen in several states, and Mexico City.