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  HOME | Central America

1,400 Cops Occupy Unruly Panamanian Prison

PANAMA CITY – Some 1,400 police officers occupied Nueva Esperanza Prison in the northern Panamanian city of Colon, which holds some 1,200 inmates, and made a surprise search because in this correctional facility “anarchy reigned,” Interior Minister Milton Henriquez said.

The heavily armed police burst into the prison unexpectedly Tuesday morning, where last Friday a fight broke out that left at least one person injured, according to local media.

Henriquez said during an interview on local television network Telemetro that the occupation of the jail had been planned weeks ahead because of “anarchy” in the facility.

According to the minister, last Friday’s brawl was due to prisoners wandering around the penitentiary as they pleased “due to the prison administration mistakenly opening the cells,” which sparked friction among members of different gangs.

No clashes or injuries were reported while the prison was being occupied.

Henriquez said that police will take control of the country’s 23 correctional facilities, which according to the Interior Ministry hold more than 14,000 inmates while their capacity is less than 9,000.

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