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    Mass break-out from Mexican jail near US border


    by ODN

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    Eighty-five prisoners have escaped from a jail near the US border, the latest prison break underscoring the challenges Mexico faces as it battles powerful drug cartels.

    The prisoners, mainly cartel members, climbed over a prison fence in the border city of Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas, in the early hours of Friday morning.

    Police arrested more than 40 prison guards and staff who were on duty when the men escaped, and two prison guards are missing, local radio and newspaper El Norte said.

    The jailbreak follows a scandal in July, when authorities discovered that prison officials had allowed convicts out of a prison in northwestern Durango state to carry out revenge attacks before returning to cells for the night.

    Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who sent thousands of troops across the country to fight drug gangs, has vowed to clean up prisons that in the past have allowed jailed drug lords to live in luxury or escape when they please.

    But the conservative leader has struggled to contain corruption and lawlessness in the Mexican prison system.

    Officials say rising drug violence across Mexico is a sign the army is weakening powerful cartels, but Calderon is under enormous pressure to stop escalating drug violence that has killed over 28,000 people since late 2006.