LANCASTER, Calif. – Hundreds of illegal immigrants awaiting deportation rioted at a county-run detention center and had to be subdued with tear gas, authorities said Wednesday.
The riot Tuesday started as a fight between detainees from rival gangs and spread to the detention center's outdoor yard, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Nearby sheriff's stations sent additional deputies to separate the detainees. The brawl was diffused "within minutes" after tear gas was used, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.
Fights among incarcerated gang members periodically break out at state jails, prisons and immigrant detention facilities, sometimes sparking riots.
The federal Department of Homeland Security contracts with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to staff and manage the Mira Loma Detention Center in Lancaster, which holds about 900 detainees who are in the process of being deported or awaiting resolution of their cases in immigration courts.
Ten detainees were treated for injuries, including two who suffered serious head injuries.
Sheriff's officials will evaluate how Mira Loma guards separate detainees based on gang affiliation, Whitmore said. About 45 detainees involved in the riot have been identified as suspected gang members and moved to other federal facilities.