Fights, prostitution and gang intimidation are rife in a prison in Puebla where the state government has dismissed two wardens since it took office in August 2019.
The Center for Social Reintegration (Cereso) located in Lomas de San Miguel, Puebla, has been investigated by both state and national human rights commissions.
One inmate died and five others were injured in a fight on December 28 when 15 inmates protested against a ban on visitors due to the pandemic. When other prisoners refused to join the demonstration, a brawl broke out. The inmate died while being treated by doctors, and state police were sent in to restore order.
Two days later the Puebla Human Rights Commission opened an investigation, but has yet to issue any recommendations.
Prison guards allowed parties involving prostitution in the facility on weekends during 2019, according to the National Human Rights Commission. During the parties, female inmates were allowed into the male wards where they exchanged sexual favors for money.
The commission instructed the Security Minister Raciel López Salazar to open an investigation and identify the authorities responsible. However, Salazar was dismissed from his position on April 16 before complying.
Relatives of inmates say they fear for the lives of those inside the facility. “The situation inside San Miguel prison is getting worse and worse because the violence and fights that put our families at risk is continuing. My brother is serving a sentence for a minor crime and he has told us that he has been beaten by inmates without deserving or anticipating it,” said the relative of a prisoner.
Another relative said that some inmates are members of the “El Cachibombo” gang, and according to what was also revealed by a ministerial source, they charge inmates for protection.
“This group asks for money to protect the inmates and, if they don’t pay them, they threaten them with death and beat them. There are times when we have had to get the money so that my brother gives it to them and they don’t hurt him. It really is scary what they live through there,” he said.
Both of the men agreed it was essential for state authorities to take full control of the prison.
Source: El Universal (sp)