Mexican authorities confirmed that 14 federal inmates were killed by other prisoners in an early-morning fight Friday at the Matamoros State Prison.
The confrontation took place at approximately 5 a.m. at CEDES, formerly known as CERESO, located in the rural area of Santa Adelaida, according to a spokesman for the Tamaulipas Department of Public Safety.
The violence erupted between two groups of inmates that were housed in an area for new arrivals at the prison. Using makeshift picks and knives, one side killed 14 men from the other side, the spokesman said.
A representative from Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office confirmed that the 14 who were killed were facing federal charges and had been arrested recently.
The names of the dead haven’t been released. State sources said two of them had been taken to the jail on July 19 and the other 12 men had been taken there on July 29.
The Attorney General’s Office did not give any information about alliances with criminal organizations, but a source with first-hand knowledge of criminal activities in Mexico stated that the men who died were members of the Zetas and had been killed by inmates associated with the rival Gulf Cartel.
According to one law enforcement official, 12 of the dead are believed to be the same 12 Zetas that were arrested by Mexican Marines on the night of July 25 in San Fernando, Tamaulipas.
The source said that the Zetas arrested in San Fernando where part of a group of hitmen led by Arturo Castillo, also known as Oscar Castillo Flores, or “El Apache.”
Castillo is the brother of Alberto Castillo, also known as “El Beto Fabe,” a former area boss for the Gulf Cartel who cooperated with both sides by letting El Apache work in Matamoros, the source said.
Alberto Castillo was killed in May allegedly under orders of Gulf Cartel bosses and since then El Apache began openly attacking Gulf Cartel and police assets.
El Apache is believed to be responsible for recent firefights in Matamoros and Valle Hermoso including an attack at the Matamoros municipal police station where seven local police officers were killed.