2 Die in Tijuana Jail Break Attempt : Prisoner Kills Guard, Then Himself as Escape Fails
A machine-gun-wielding prisoner killed a jailer early Thursday, then committed suicide when he realized his attempt to escape from the city jail had gone awry, according to authorities and press accounts.
Two other jailers and another prisoner also were injured during the shooting, which occurred about 1 a.m., police said. The condition of the wounded could not be determined.
The bloody escape attempt at the jail comes one year after the sensational escape of a reputed major drug trafficker, a case that brought official promises by Baja California authorities to improve security and reduce corruption at the jail.
The prisoner involved in Thursday’s escape attempt was identified as Jaime Grande, 25, who was said to be a citizen of El Salvador. Grande had been imprisoned in Tijuana for five months in connection with a robbery at Banco Internacional in Tijuana.
One report said Grande was believed to be a former guerrilla fighter and arms expert in El Salvador, but this could not be confirmed.
Grande’s escape attempt began when he requested--and was granted--permission to leave his cell to go to the bathroom, according to a Tijuana police official who asked that his name not be used. Upon leaving his cell, Grande brandished a previously concealed Uzi 9-millimeter machine gun and a .357 magnum pistol, according to official accounts.
The shooting apparently ensued when jail officials refused to cooperate. Police Capt. Victor Arteaga was hit by three bullets and killed, according to press accounts. It was unclear whether jailers fired back.
Grande evidently realized his escape attempt was foiled when he reached the front door of the jail and saw police posted there. He then used his last bullet to commit suicide, Mexican newspapers said.
The Baja California State Judicial police are investigating the shootings and are reportedly holding several jail employees for questioning.
The municipal jail has long been a source of controversy in Tijuana, generating frequent reports of corruption, prisoner mistreatment and poor security.
This month marks the one-year anniversary of the spectacular escape from the jail of Jose Contreras Subias, allegedly a major drug trafficker and the supposed right-hand man of Rafael Caro Quintero, the reputed Mexican drug kingpin. Contreras Subias allegedly escaped with the cooperation of Tijuana police and prison officials.
U.S. officials were particularly outraged, as Caro Quintero is the prime suspect in the slaying of a U.S. drug agent in Mexico in 1985.
The former warden of the jail is still in prison in Mexico, facing corruption and other charges arising from last year’s escape.