Gang rams vehicles into prison, springs 9 inmates

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A gang rammed several vehicles into a prison in central Mexico and escaped with nine inmates Wednesday in one of the most dramatic breakouts the country has seen in recent years.

Authorities in the state of Hidalgo, just north of Mexico City, said in a statement that the pre-dawn attack resulted in injuries to two police officers.

The state police said soldiers, police and National Guard troops had fanned out looking for the escaped inmates. Police did not identify the armed gang involved in the prison break.

The state’s interior secretary, Simón Vargas, said “an armed group burst into the prison aboard several vehicles, and it is worth noting that near the prison, two vehicles were burned as part of the criminal group’s operation, as a distraction.”

Local media reported that the burned-out cars found in the city of Tula after the attack were car bombs.

The use of car bombs by gangs in Mexico has been extremely rare, with one such attack in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez in 2010 killing three people.

But gangs in Mexico frequently do torch vehicles to distract police, and vehicles set alight can appear to explode once the flames reach their gas tanks.

Tula is home to a large oil refinery and the area has been plagued by gangs of thieves who drill illegal taps into government-owned pipelines to extract gasoline and diesel.