Police, soldiers raid state prison after bloody night in Juarez

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Heavy police presence reported on streets after drug gangs burn vehicles, shoot up government building in retaliation for arrests

A squad of police commandos enters Cereso 3 prison in Juarez as part of a surprise check for guns, drugs and communications equipment in the early hours of Wednesday. (photo courtesy Chihuahua Security Commission)

JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — After a night of bloody violence in Juarez in which vehicles were set on fire, more than 800 soldiers, state and city police officers raided the Cereso 3 state prison south of the city.

Chihuahua State Police Director Óscar Alberto Aparicio Avendaño said the operation took place in the early hours of Wednesday and that the officers were tasked with confiscating guns, drugs, cellphones and other prohibited items from inmates.

Aparicio did not immediately say how many illicit items were confiscated or if any inmates will be facing new charges. No inmates were transferred to a different prison, he said.

On Tuesday night in Juarez, drug gangs unleashed a series of retaliatory attacks against rivals and the police in response to recent multiple arrests of street-level drug dealers.

Two men were found shot to death and burned inside a vehicle. About an hour later, a taxi driver was also shot and killed in South Juarez when two passengers allegedly attacked him and set his body on fire. The terror continued into the night as cars were set on fire along Casas Grande Highway, south of the Juarez Airport.

On Wednesday morning, witnesses reported seeing a heavy police presence outside Juarez government buildings.

In recent weeks, community leaders have raised concerns about the likelihood that jailed drug traffickers continue to order “hits” on rivals, witnesses and informers, and that they control the drug trade from inside prison.

Chihuahua State Police Director Óscar Alberto Aparicio Avendaño talks to the news media after the surprise raid on Cereso 3 state prison in Juarez. (photo courtesy Chihuahua Security Commission)

“The federal, state and municipal governments will guarantee the safety of the public. It is in that context that we effected this operation (at the prison). We want to make certain everything is being done as it should at the state prison,” Aparicio said.

The violence in Juarez comes on the heels of Monday’s murder of nine American women and children who were part of a religious community in LeBaron, Chihuahua. The Americans apparently were mistaken for members of a rival faction by drug traffickers in Sonora on a highway that leads to the border town of Agua Prieta, Mexico, across the border from Douglas, Arizona.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information comes in.

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