CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – Gunmen killed 25 people in a series of drug-gang attacks in Ciudad Juarez, marking the deadliest day in more than two years for the Mexican border city. Farther east on the border, 85 inmates scaled the walls of a prison and escaped Friday in Mexico’s biggest jail break in recent memory.
The toll in Thursday’s attacks in Ciudad Juarez included 15 people killed when attackers stormed four homes in three hours, said Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office of Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located.
In the worst of those attacks, gunmen burst into a house and killed two young men – then killed four others for being witnesses.
Sandoval said it was the highest single-day murder toll in the city across from El Paso, Texas, since March 2008.
Two graffiti messages appeared in Ciudad Juarez threatening Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the fugitive head of the Sinaloa drug cartel.
“You are killing our sons. You already did, and now we are going to kill your families,” one sign read.
Ciudad Juarez, with a population of 1.3 million, has become one of the world’s most dangerous cities amid a turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels.
In the border city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, 85 inmates – 66 of whom were convicted or on trial for federal charges like weapons possession or drugs – scaled the Reynosa prison’s 20-foot walls using ladders, said the Tamaulipas state public safety secretary, Jose Garza Garcia.
Garza Garcia said 44 prison guards and employees were under investigation. Two were missing.
“The guards evidently helped in the escape,” he said. So far this year a total of 201 inmates have escaped from prisons in Tamaulipas.
Friday’s escape was the largest single mass prison breakout in recent years. In 2009, armed assailants believed to be working for the Zetas drug gang broke 53 inmates out of a prison in the northern state of Zacatecas while guards stood by and did nothing to stop them.