MONTERREY, Mexico: Authorities found “luxury cells” with aquariums, portable saunas and even a bar at a Mexican prison where 49 inmates were killed in a brawl, officials said Sunday.
The warden and superintendent of the Topo Chico prison in the northern industrial city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, were arrested and accused of drug trafficking and failing to apply security measures.
A guard faces charges of fatally shooting one of the inmates during Thursday’s melee.
Zetas drug cartel leader Ivan Hernandez Cantu, alias “El Credo,” had a king-sized bed in his cell, a huge flat-screen television and a luxury bath, the Nuevo Leon state prosecutor’s office said.
“At the time of the attack, a lady was with him,” chief prosecutor Roberto Flores said.
Authorities say the battle stemmed from a dispute over control of the prison between Hernandez and another Zetas leader, Juan Pedro Zaldivar Farias, alias “Z-27.”
Most of the victims died when they were stabbed or beaten with sticks by other inmates during the skirmish.
The state government said Sunday that police took control of the prison and “put an end to the self-government that leaders of organized crime exerted with the complicity of some authorities.”
The prison had “luxury cells” with air conditioners, mini-fridges, digital televisions, aquariums and portable saunas, the government said in a statement, adding that authorities had seized everything.
The prison had food stands, convenience stores and even a bar that were operated by inmates, the statement said.
Relatives of inmates said that the prisoners had to pay high prices to get water and food due to the bad quality of the meals provided by the prison.
Authorities also found hundreds of figures of Santa Muerte, a Grim Reaper-like “Death Saint” worshiped by criminals but also millions of ordinary Mexicans.
“All the privileges are over,” state public safety chief Cuauhtemoc Antunez said.
The prison had 3,800 inmates at the time of the riot, 35 percent over capacity, and it was housing drug cartel members as well as suspects of less serious crimes awaiting trial.
Authorities transferred 233 inmates, including the two Zetas leaders, to other prisons following the violence.
The day after the massacre, officials found scores of makeshift knives, hammers and drugs inside the prison.