Death toll rises to 19 in Mexico attack

MEXICO CITY: An attack on a prison in the Mexican border town of Jua-rez left 19 dead and allowed a cartel kingpin to escape along with two dozen other prisoners, authorities said Monday.
An armed group, traveling in armored vehicles, launched almost-simultaneous attacks on the prison and the municipal police station, De-fense Minister Luis Crescencio Sandoval said in a news conference.
Authorities said the Sunday morning attack had coincided with prepara-tions for New Year’s Day visits. They initially said the death toll was at least 14, but by Monday, Sandoval said, this had risen to 19: 10 guards, seven prisoners and two attackers.
The attack allowed 25 inmates, including Ernesto Alfredo Pinon de la Cruz, also known as “El Neto,” to escape. Pinon is a top gunman for the Juarez-based “Los Mexicles” cartel, Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez said at the news conference.
Federal authorities were called in to contain the unrest. They later found a “VIP zone” in the state-run prison with drugs and money, said Rodriguez, who slammed the Chihuahua state administration. “That’s the state’s re-sponsibility, because federal authorities can’t intervene in these places,” Rodriguez said. –Agencies