A struggle in the prison broke out just before midnight last Wednesday between a new group of inmates and a gang that had ruled Topo Chico for some time, according to a video statement by Nuevo Leon Attorney General Roberto Flores. The riot was soon brought under control, but 49 people died in the chaos, and when authorities entered the scene to investigate the case, they found life in the prison very different from what you might expect.
According to Nuevo Leon state authorities, many cells inside Topo Chico were outfitted with mini refrigerators, air conditioners, digital cable, and even aquariums. One drug cartel leader had a king-sized bed.
In the overcrowded prison, police also discovered and destroyed hundreds of altars to Saint Death, a skeletal folk art deity believed to favor drug traffickers.
Even before the riot, the prison was notorious for ill practices. Earlier inspections uncovered poorer prisoners buying their food at inflated prices and having to rent cell space from well-connected prisoners. If the poor inmates had no money or were unwilling to pay, they slept in corridors.
"We knew about all of the irregularities that existed, arbitrary acts, abuses, taxes," Nuevo Leon's security secretary said in the statement.
On Monday, a representative of the United Nations called on Mexico's government to conduct an exhaustive investigation into the riot.