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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03TEGUCIGALPA861 2003-04-08 22:58:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tegucigalpa
Cable title:  

LA CEIBA PRISON RIOT LEAVES 69 DEAD AND MANY

Tags:   PGOV PHUM SNAR KCRM KJUS CASC ASEC HO 
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					  UNCLAS TEGUCIGALPA 000861 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN, DRL/PHD, CA/OCS/ACS/WHA, AND DS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SNAR KCRM KJUS CASC ASEC HO
SUBJECT: LA CEIBA PRISON RIOT LEAVES 69 DEAD AND MANY
OTHERS WOUNDED

REF: 02 TEGUCIGALPA 1755



1. SUMMARY: On April 5 a riot in El Porvenir prison, located
just outside the Caribbean port city of La Ceiba, Honduras,
left 69 dead and 39 wounded. Many of the dead were gang
members from Mara 18, one of Central America's largest gangs.
According to press reports, the riot broke out when a
scuffle between inmates turned deadly after Mara 18 gangs
members with weapons attacked non-gang member prisoners, who
retaliated with weapons. The non-gang inmates then
reportedly proceeded to lock the gang members in their cell
block and start a fire in the cell block, which killed over
thirty gang members. Prison authorities had previously
confiscated some weapons in what was apparently not an
effective search of the prison. No AmCits were reported
among the victims. Post notes that Honduran prisons are
known for their poor conditions and lax security. END SUMMARY



2. On April 5 a riot in El Porvenir (The Future) prison,
located just outside the Caribbean port city of La Ceiba,
Honduras, left 69 dead (66 men and three women) and 39
wounded. According to press reports, the riot broke out
around 10 a.m. shortly after visiting hours, when a scuffle
between inmates turned deadly after Mara 18 gangs members
produced four pistols and a number of machetes and attacked
non-gang member prisoners. (Prison authorities had
previously confiscated some weapons in what was apparently
not an effective search of the prison.) Hundreds of regular
prisoners then reportedly brandished weapons of their own,
including smuggled grenades, and proceeded to attack Mara 18
members. The facility, which holds 1,600 inmates is a
low-security prison farm where suspects facing drugs,
weapons, rape, and assault charges are held while they await
trial.



3. Of the 69 killed during the riot, 61 were Mara 18 gang
members. According to press reports, at least half of those
died from smoke inhalation after the cell block where they
were trying to take refuge was locked and then set ablaze by
other non-gang inmates. The fire department was reportedly
unable to enter the prison to put out the fire due to
gunfire. The press has reported allegations that some of the
inmates were shot and killed by prison guards during the
riot. Also included among the victims were three women
visiting the prison at the time of the uprising and five
regular prisoners. In the past some AmCits awaiting trial
have been temporarily detained at El Porvenir but none were
present when the riot broke out on April 5.



4. Comment: Security at El Porvenir is notoriously lax.
Weapons and drugs are common, and in many instances interned
gang members control whole cell blocks. Reftel and the Human
Rights Report both describe the poor conditions in Honduran
prisons. The GOH is currently investigating the incident,
including allegations that prison guards, with the collusion
of a privately run prison store, helped smuggle weapons into
the prison. End Comment.
Palmer