Six inmates are sentenced to 1,200 years in prison in Mexico

The inmates were involved in a 2016 riot at the infamous Topo Chico prison 

Six inmates are sentenced to 1,200 years in prison in Mexico
The inmates were charged with homicide and the infamous prison was closed on September 30, 2019 - Photo: Julio César Aguilar/AFP
English 02/07/2020 16:39 Newsroom Mexico City David Carrizales Actualizada 16:50

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In Nuevo León, a judge sentenced six inmates to 1,200 years in prison and fined them with MXN 369,582 after a riot broke out in the now-defunct Topo Chico prison in February 2016. 

The inmates were charged with homicide and the infamous prison was closed on September 30, 2019. According to Nuevo León’s government, the prison will be demolished and a recreational park will be built on its place, as well as a theater and the State’s General Archive.

The inmates are Edgar Fabián Solís Rodríguez, Gerardo de León Alemán, José Fidencio Armendáriz Guardiola, Francisco Javier Eguía Meza, Luis Carlos Carrasco Espinoza, and Juan Ángel Leal Flores.

Each of the defendants was sentenced to 1,200 years in prison and each of them will have to pay reparations and funeral expenses to the families of each of the inmates who died during the 2016 riot. 

In 2019, the judge absolved the defendants but the state Attorney General’s Office contested the decision but another judge reverted the decision on June 11. 

In October 2019, authorities launched a search for hidden graves in what was one of Mexico’s most violent prisons.

The Topo Chico prison closed in September 2019 after a 76-year history that saw riots, fires, and bloody internal quarrels. One of its most famous inmates included a doctor who was in custody decades ago and who inspired one of the lead characters in the 1991 movie “The Silence of the Lambs.”

The prison is best known for a 2016 massacre that left 49 dead and a dozen injured as warring gangs, the Cartel del Golfo and Los Zetas, fought for control of the prison.

A couple of days before its 76th anniversary, the historical Topo Chico prison will be permanently closed leaving behind tens of vicious and unprecedented events that happened inside, such as riots, escapes, overcrowding, and violent confrontations.

Mexican prisons gained notoriety in recent years, especially after Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán managed to escape from two maximum-security prisons

In recent years, violence has surged in Mexican prisons. On July 1, 2020, four inmates died inside a Morelos prison after two rival gangs clashed.

On May 23, 2020, prison authorities reported 8 deaths and 8 inmates wounded after a fight broke out at Puente Grande, a prison located in Jalisco.

Recommended: Authorities search for clandestine graves inside former Topo Chico prison

A dark past
After the 2016 massacre, 233 prisoners of Topo Chico were relocated to other prisons of the state and the country. Back then, authorities said they had ended with inmates' self-government, but quarrels, riots, relocation of dangerous inmates, and organized crime leaders and extortions continued.

In August 2016, Javier Orlando Galindo “El Maruchan” and the other two inmates were murdered. The reason behind the murder is that they had stopped paying a fee demanded by the Northeast cartel.

The last riot was registered on March 27, 2019, when 501 dangerous inmates were transferred to other federal prisons.

Recommended: The dusk of Mexico's infamous Topo Chico prison

Topo Chicos's infamous residents
Trough 76 years, Topo Chico was home to controversial and renowned figures. Banker Jorge Lankenau Rocha was imprisoned for fraud and tax evasion for 8 years.

The former director of the Federal Security Board (DFS), Miguel Nazar Haro, was imprisoned charged with the disappearance of Ignacio Salas Obregón and Jesús Piedra Ibarra in the 70s.

In 1959, doctor Alfredo Ballí Treviño was imprisoned in Topo Chico. He was charged with dismembering a young man. His case inspired Thomas Harris to create Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins in “The Silence of the Lambs.”

Another famous inmate was the so-called “Ghost Captain,” Santiago Reyes Quesada, who is credited for 12 successful escapes from Mexican prisons.