Brazilian gang members among 75 escapees from Paraguay prison

Clay Curtis
January 21, 2020

- 40 Brazilians and 36 Paraguayans, many of them members of a big Brazilian drug and the arms-trafficking gang and described as "highly unsafe", escaped through a tunnel they had built from the prison near the border with Brazil, police said.

Post the escape, the government said it alerted Brazil's federal police, but the prisoners are believed to still be in Paraguayan territory.

Paraguayan Justice Minister Cecilia Perez told reporters that the director of the jail, as well as six other officials from the prison administration, have been fired.

"It is evident that the staff knew nothing and did nothing", Perez said.

Paraguay's prison system has always been without funds, with little staff and prone to corruption.

The prisoners, who are members of the First Capital Command drug cartel, allegedly spent weeks digging the tunnel from a prison bathroom.

The Paraguayan National Police launched a hunt for the refugees, including inmates who participated in a massacre that killed 10 inmates on June 16 past year. Since the town is at the border to Brazil, the gang members may have already crossed over.

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Brazilian authorities said 40 of the escapees were Brazilian, and said they had passed their names and photos to border police.

The ministry plans to investigate whether there were any collaborators inside the prison.

The area where the prison break occurred is marked on a map.

"In that area, there are many woods and they know the territory ... these are highly risky people", Paraguayan Attorney General Sandra Quinonez told Monumental.

The 30-year-old was picked up in Mato Grosso do Sul state, the Border Operations Department said in a statement.

He tweeted: 'In the event that they enter Brazil once more, they are going to exclusively get a one-way ticket to federal jail'.

He said a refugee was recaptured through the tunnel while fleeing, but many may have already fled to Brazil while others may still be in the country.

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