In one of the largest prison breaks in Mexico in recent years, 132 inmates escaped from a facility in the northern state of Coahuila on Monday, setting off a massive manhunt by police and soldiers near the U.S. border.

The inmates escaped through a tunnel that had been in place for months, prompting suspicions that the prison’s director and two other employees may have been involved. Eighty-six of the escaped inmates were serving sentences or awaiting trial for federal crimes such as drug trafficking. Authorities did not say which drug gang was believed to be behind the breakout, but the Zetas, Sinaloa and Gulf cartels have all been active in the area.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Guardian:

Authorities in Coahuila state said the 132 inmates fled the prison in Piedras Negras, a city across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, through a tunnel that was 21ft long and 4ft in diameter, then cut their way through a chain link barrier and escaped on to a neighbouring property.

The Coahuila attorney general Homero Ramos Gloria, said the director and two other employees of the state prison had been detained pending an investigation and were being questioned by authorities about their possible involvement. The prison houses about 730 inmates.

The tunnel “was not made today”, Ramos told the Milenio TV station. “It had been there for months.”

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