Police officers stand outside the jail after the escape of more than 130 inmates in Piedras Negras, Mexico. (Photo : Reuters)
It's being reported that the escape of approximately 130 inmates from a state prison in northern Mexico on Monday may have been orchestrated by a Mexican drug cartel called the Zetas.
State officials in Mexico said on Monday that 131 inmates had escaped through a 21-foot-tunnel in the jail but that number was revised when three of the alleged escapees were found hiding in a visiting area of the jail in Piedras Negras in northern Mexico.
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Mexican officials say the Zetas may have been responsible for the escape, as it is reported that it may have been an attempt to replenish the cartels' weakened ranks.
"Clearly the Zetas are behind this escape," Jorge Luis Moran, public security secretary in the State of Coahuila, Mexico where the prison is located, told the media. "The line of investigation is that the Zetas cartel was able to organize the escape because the prisoners who were held on federal charges had ties with this group."
According to Coahuila Attorney General Homero Ramos, some 86 of the escaped inmates were serving sentences and/or awaiting the outcome of federal charges including drug trafficking.
Late on Tuesday, Moran told the Milenio TV station that two of the escaped inmates had been found armed and driving in an SUV approximately 40 miles away from the jail. After engaging in a shootout with state police, these two individuals were captured and taken into custody.
It is estimated that hundreds, or even thousands of Mexican troops and police, including 70 members of an elite military special forces team, are searching the area around Piedras Negras for the escaped prisoners. U.S. authorities are also patrolling the Texas-Mexico border for inmates attempting to flee to the United States, but so far none have been reported.