National: Topo Chico reveals conditions in Mexican prisons

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Prisoners’ relatives outside Topo Chico prison. Photo@Miguel Sierra

After the massacre at Topo Chico prison, Nuevo Leon, where 49 people lost their lives on February 11 during a confrontation between two groups of prisoners who were members of organized crime gangs, there have been continuous press reports about irregularities and extortion in Mexican prisons. According to Animal Politico, Topo Chico had a population of almost 3,700 prisoners, 35% more than its capacity. Data from INEGI show that in July 2015, there were more than 254,000 people in prison in Mexico although the prison system only has capacity for 203,000, representing an overpopulation of 25.4%. According to the same source, there were 737 incidents in Mexican prisons in 2014 at both state and federal level. It is worth remembering that last October, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights reported on the overcrowding, corruption, irregular medical attention, lack of privacy, absence of real opportunities for social reintegration, mistreatment and the impossibility of presenting complaints in the country’s prisons.

After the mutiny at Topo Chico, there were revelations about a lack of guards at the prison, possession of arms and drugs by the prisoners, and luxuries that some prisoners enjoyed, such as air-conditioned cells that were four times the standard size, flat-screen televisions, aquaria, mini-bars, exercise machines, king-size beds and even a sauna. Furthermore, according to declarations by Josue Reyes, in charge of the internal reorganization of the prison, “Businesses were very profitable. There was a weekly collection of payments from extortion and for privileges that ranged from two to five million pesos.” Prisoners had to pay a sum of 35,000 pesos to avoid attacks, they had to pay for their food and for visits, rising to 1,500 pesos for conjugal visits or 20 pesos for regular visits according to Proceso. The United Nations Organization (UNO) has for the moment demanded that the Mexican government conduct an “impartial and exhaustive” investigation to establish the facts of the events in the prison.

For more information in Spanish:

Extorsiones en penal de Topo Chico dejaban 20 mdp cada mes (Proceso, 17 de febrero de 2016)

Exige la ONU investigación “imparcial y exhaustiva” por masacre en Topo Chico (Proceso, 15 de febrero de 2016)

Detienen a directora de Topo Chico por homicidio calificado (Proceso, 13 de febrero de 2016)

El Bronco recibió reporte de crisis en penales 10 meses antes de Topo Chico (Animal Político, 16 de febrero de 2016)

Congelan 6 iniciativas para sistema carcelario (El Financiero, 16 de febrero de 2016)

Reporta gobierno de NL “lujos” en Topo Chico (La Jornada, 14 de febrero de 2016)

Cárceles en México, sobrepobladas, con castigos excesivos y abuso de prisión preventiva: CIDH (Animal Polítio, 15 de octubre de 2015)

Tortura e incomunicación (Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, 16 de febrero de 2016)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Denuncia Roberto Paciencia escasez de alimentos y negación de visitas (27 de enero de 2016)

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