Fire in Mexican Prison Kills at Least 6 Police Officers
VERACRUZ, Mexico — Six police officers died on Sunday from smoke inhalation after prisoners started a fire while resisting an effort to transfer dangerous inmates out of a prison in Mexico’s Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, the authorities said.
Gov. Miguel Ángel Yunes of Veracruz said a seventh person had died, but it was unclear whether that person was an inmate or a prison guard.
Mr. Yunes said four “highly dangerous” inmates had been helping run criminal networks in the area around La Toma prison in the town of Amatlán de los Reyes, so officials had decided to transfer them to a maximum-security federal prison.
The governor did not name the criminal gang involved, but the area was long dominated by the Zetas cartel.
When local police officers, in support of the state police, entered the prison to get the four inmates for transfer, they were apparently ambushed by prisoners, who blocked their escape and lit a fire that suffocated six officers, the governor said.
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“The six police officers were attacked and were enclosed in an area with no exit,” Mr. Yunes said. “The inmates started a fire, and with the smoke, they caused the asphyxiation and death of the six police officers.”
The seventh dead man was not wearing a uniform and could have been either an inmate or a guard, Mr. Yunes said. The man’s body was being examined.
Seven inmates were injured, two seriously, and 15 police officers were hospitalized, one with serious injuries, the authorities said.
Mexico’s largely antiquated, overcrowded and poorly guarded prisons have been the scenes of frequent riots and uprisings. In October, 16 inmates died during a prison riot in the northern Mexican border state of Nuevo León. In February 2016, at another lockup in Nuevo León, 49 prisoners died when two factions of the Zetas cartel clashed.