HomeNewsBrief'Zetas Turned Mexico Prison Into Mass Grave'
BRIEF

'Zetas Turned Mexico Prison Into Mass Grave'

MEXICO / 27 JAN 2016 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY EN

An ongoing investigation into the Zetas has revealed how this violent criminal group used a prison to dispose of over 150 victims, focusing attention on the shocking level of corruption within Mexico's prison system and state governments. 

Investigators from the Disappeared Persons subdivision of Mexico's Attorney General's Office say the Zetas killed more than 150 people at the Piedras Negras prison in northern Coahuila state between 2010 and 2012, reported El Español

Victims were reportedly taken to the prison where Zetas members would kill them and often burn their bodies in diesel-filled barrels known as "ovens." The remains were then thrown into a nearby river, lead investigator Juan José Yáñez was quoted as saying.

The Zetas are believed to have been in control of Piedras Negras during the time period in which these atrocities occurred. The facility allegedly manufactured uniforms, bulletproof vests, and modified cars to hide drugs and weapons for the Zetas. Piedras Negras was also used as a hideout and base of operations for the criminal group, Yáñez said. 

The investigation began in late 2014 after witnesses stated that two victims were last seen in or around Piedras Negras prison prior to their disappearance. Inmates later told investigators of numerous other cases in which Zetas members disposed of people in "ovens," the report said. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Prisons

Speaking with La Jornada, Silvia Ortiz Solís of Grupo Vida (an organization working with families of the disappeared) disagreed with an assertion made by Yáñez that most of the victims were from rival criminal groups. But both agreed the case indicated a shocking level of corruption within the prison and local government.

"I can't explain how something like this could happen without a reaction," Yáñez commented.

Investigators are reportedly looking into allegations of similar incidents at other prisons in Coahuila.  

InSight Crime Analysis

The Zetas' brazen use of Piedras Negras prison as a dumping ground for their victims speaks to the level of corruption within Mexico's penitentiary system. Although this case dates back several years, Mexico has failed to enact significant reforms to its prison system since these barbarities reportedly took place. This became glaringly obvious last year when authorities arrested several top prison officials for their alleged role in the escape of notorious drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán from a maximum security facility. 

The investigation calls attention to corruption not only within the prison system but Coahuila's government as well. 

The period during which the Zetas reportedly controlled Piedras Negras roughly coincides with Humberto Moreira's term as governor of Coahuila. Moreira was recently detained in Spain on money laundering charges and has been accused of links to the Zetas. In 2011, the Moreira administration blocked Mexico's National Human Rights Commission from visiting the prison. Whether intentional or not, this decision likely delayed authorities from discovering the Zetas' criminal operations inside the prison.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EXTORTION / 13 OCT 2021

A new report claims the success rate of phone extortion is dropping in Mexico, but the fluid nature of this…

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR / 2 APR 2021

Following the arrest of a former Mexican mayor in Guatemala, US prosecutors unveiled an indictment against him and criminal rivals…

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 8 SEP 2021

Mexico remains the main international provider of marijuana for the United States, but this has greatly diminished since 2013, forcing…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…