Mexican authorities believe the ultra-violent Zetas drug cartel was responsible for the mass prison break near the US border on Tuesday.
The Associated Press reported the Zetas may have organized the escape of 131 prisoners in the northern state of Coahuila to “replenish its ranks” after members of the gang were arrested or killed during a deadly turf war with the rival Sinaloa cartel.
"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," Jorge Luis Moran, state public safety secretary, was quoted by the Agence France-Presse as saying.
Moran told the AP that the Zetas “are running out of people.”
Coahuila state is offering hefty rewards – up to $15,000 – for the capture each prisoner. So far, three prisoners have been arrested.
Initial reports said the prisoners escaped through a tunnel from the prison in Piedras Negras, a city across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas. But Moran told local media that this theory was “not credible,” El Universal reported today.
It was more likely they escaped through the front gate of the prison, he said.
Sixteen security personnel at the prison are being held in custody.
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