Security camera footage shows guards at a Mexican prison nonchalantly standing around as 53 dangerous inmates walked out -- and didn't rush into action with their guns drawn until well after their convoy of escape vehicles had disappeared.
The footage published by Reforma newspaper Thursday provides a rare inside look at lax security inside Mexico's prisons, a problem that makes prosecuting drug smugglers vastly more difficult. Interpol described the worst of the criminals, who escaped without firing a shot, as "a risk to the safety and security of citizens around the world."
Interpol issued an international security alert for 11 of the prisoners involved in the 2-minute-and-52-second prison break Saturday in Cieneguillas, in the northern state of Zacatecas. About a dozen of the prisoners were drug cartel suspects.
The video shows bored-looking guards watching TV before one of the prisoners opens an unlocked gate to his cell block and then orders a group of inmates to follow him into the guards' room. The guards step aside, making no moves to stop the escape, until they are shoved into the cell block by the inmates, some of them armed.
Prisoners then cover the camera with a blanket. Meanwhile, a second security camera outside the prison filmed the arrival of gunmen in police cars with flashing lights shortly before 5 a.m. Two guards run to open the front gate without questioning the drivers.
Eight gunmen wearing jackets with federal police insignia then enter the prison building and escort the inmates to the cars waiting in the prison parking lot. After they are gone, one guard with his hands bound by plastic luggage ties is seen walking calmly down an empty hall.
Only after the convoy is well out of the picture can guards be seen running toward the gate, some crouching with their guns drawn. Reforma added in a caption that the guards appeared to overacting for the cameras, "in Jim Carrey style."
The Lyon, France-based international police agency said Mexican authorities identified the 11 as the most dangerous of the 53 escapees. The alert -- an "orange notice" -- provides identifying details for each fugitive to all of Interpol's 187 member countries.
Mexico has struggled to reduce corruption and ineptitude in its justice system. President Felipe Calderon has acknowledged that jailed drug traffickers often operate from behind bars, and has extradited a record number of traffickers to serve time in more secure U.S. prisons.
Two prison guards are serving up to 19 years for aiding the escape of Mexico's most-wanted drug lord, alleged Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. He rode out of federal prison in Jalisco state in a laundry cart after bribing guards in 2001.
And Otto Roberto Herrera Garcia, who helped turn Guatemala into a corridor for U.S.-bound cocaine, escaped in May 2005 from a jail in southern Mexico City. That jail's warden, his deputy and 10 others were arrested for allegedly accepting bribes to facilitate his freedom. He was arrested two years later in Bogota, Colombia.