A riot left 16 inmates dead at a central Mexican prison in Cieneguillas. Five other inmates were wounded in the two-and-a-half-hour melee in which inmates fought each other with handguns and knives. 

Mexican security officials stated that the riot broke out at approximately 14:30 hrs local time at the Cieneguillas’ Regional Center for Social Reintegration in the west part of the state of Zacatecas. The prison was placed back under control by 17:00.

Mexican prisons are notoriously corrupted by drug cartel members; they are also overcrowded and violent.

The government didn’t release information on how the riot began, but local media have reported that the cause was a soccer game. Government officials did say that they were going to investigate how the inmates received guns and knives. No guards or police officers were wounded in the riot. 

Ismael Camberos Hernandez, the state security secretary for Zacatecas said to the local media that 15 of the victims were killed in the prison while another died at the hospital. The victims were shot, stabbed and beaten with heavy objects. The wounded inmates were all in stable condition.

After the riot was put down, police found four handguns, one of which was still in the possession of an inmate.

This violence is the latest blow to the presidency of Lopez Obrador who vowed to reduce the violence that has plagued Mexico. Instead, his administration is dealing with record numbers of deaths. 

Camberos told Mexican media that the guns may have been brought in during visiting hours on New Year’s Eve. He said the prison was searched over the weekend and no weapons were found. “We are waiting for the results of the investigation — this includes the director, senior managers, and commanders — to determine if we are going to remove staff,” he said.