A prison riot Wednesday near the troubled Mexican border town of Juarez has left an unconfirmed number of fatalities, news reports said.
El Diario de Juarez newspaper reported 17 people were killed, including two federal agents. Ten people were wounded, the newspaper said. El Universal newspaper said there were three dead, 12 wounded and four hostages. The tallies could not be independently verified with state and federal officials. Federal troops were called in to put down the riot, the newspapers said. Police official Carlos Gonzalez said the uprising occurred among members of the Aztecas drug gang housed in Module 3, according to El Diario. Some inmates were armed, the newspaper said. The high-security prison houses many of the nation’s most dangerous drug traffickers. The uprising started at 7 a.m. local time and was quelled two hours later, El Universal said.
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The prison is located in a semi-desert area 17 miles (28 kilometers) south of Ciudad Juarez, which is across the border from El Paso, Texas. Juarez is one of the major battlegrounds as drug cartels fight each other and Mexican authorities. “The situation in Ciudad Juarez is of special concern,” the U.S. State Department said in a travel warning issued February 20. “Mexican authorities report that more than 1,800 people have been killed in the city since January 2008. Additionally, this city of 1.6 million people experienced more than 17,000 car thefts and 1,650 carjackings in 2008.” Nationwide, Mexican officials report that more than 5,400 people were killed in 2008, more than double the tally for the previous year.