Prison Break in Mexico
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 18, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: If you think Mexico is getting safer, think again. An armed gang has broken into a Mexican prison and freed 53 dangerous criminals, many with ties to a powerful drug cartel. For the latest, we go to Mexico City and Associated Press reporter Alexandra Olson.
Alexandra, tell me about this prison break. When was it, and who is suspected to be behind it?
ALEXANDRA OLSON, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Hi, Greta. It was Saturday morning before dawn. About 20 gunmen drove up to a prison in a central state called Zacatecas and freed 53 prisoners, 27 of whom are suspected of belonging to the Gulf drug cartel.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is 53 the total census of prisoners there, or did they sort of go in and cherry pick 57, as though it was very much planned?
OLSON: It was definitely the -- the governor of the state thinks that it was definitely planned. It only took about five minutes, so it definitely seems like they targeted those specific prisoners. And like...
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any...
OLSON: ... I said, 27 were from the same drug gang.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any evidence or suspicion that this was an inside job, that the people inside, the prison officials in any way participated or facilitated this?
OLSON: Definitely. The governor thinks that it was almost definitely an inside job, and she's detained all 40 prison guards who were on duty at the time for questioning, as well as the prison director.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about the gunmen who came up upon the prison? Were they -- sometimes I know that in Mexico, they've been dressed as police officers or sometimes it's thought to be that they were even complicit with the police. Is there any sort of description of the ones who made the initial attack on the prison?
OLSON: Well, there's no indication that the gunmen were police. They apparently were dressed as police. But the governor does think that there was complicity. There were two police commanders who were on duty at the time, and they've also been detained for questioning.
VAN SUSTEREN: This must be an incredible blow to your -- to the president -- not to your president, but to the president -- in light of the fact that he has really sort of stepped up the assault on the cartels or the war on the cartels? Is this -- I mean, is this getting a tremendous amount of play in Mexico? Because when I read it, I was horrified to see that this had happened.
OLSON: It's definitely a setback. It shows what Mexico's up against in terms of corruption among the police and other government officials, if it turns out to be the case that it was an inside job, anyway. So -- and it's coming right before legislative elections, so it's definitely a blow.
VAN SUSTEREN: President Calderon had called up the army to help fight this because there was so much suspicion of the police force in Mexico. Is the -- I mean, is the army -- are there enough people deployed? Are you getting a sense that in spite of what happened on Saturday, in spite the fact that 53 are out, 27 probably involved big players in a drug cartel -- is there progress? Is it thought that there's progress?
OLSON: Well, they've definitely -- they've made some big arrests in Mexico, but you know, there's still -- there's still a lot of violence going on. There are some pockets where they've managed to control it for the time being, and it just -- it remains to be seen. The big challenge right now is to get the police, the police at the municipal level and the police at the federal level, to a point where they can fight the drug gangs on their own without needing the army.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alexandra, thank you.
OLSON: Thank you, Greta.
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