Officials said Tuesday they suspect the Zetas drug cartel orchestrated the mass tunnel escape of more than 130 inmates at a northern Mexico border prison, possibly to replenish its ranks after suffering blows from a rival gang.
Jorge Luis Moran, chief of security for the border state of Coahuila, said inmates claimed the plotters were Zetas members and that some prisoners not in the gang were forced to go along.
"Clearly, the Zetas are behind this escape," Moran said.
Police and military operators (shown here) are searching for 132 inmates who escaped through a tunnel from the prison in Piedras Negras, a city across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.
The Zetas cartel has been fighting a bloody turf battle with the Sinaloa cartel in that border state.
Moran said the Zetas controlled the drug corridor until 2010, when members of the powerful Sinaloa gang were sent to the state. The Sinaloa cartel is led by Mexico's most wanted man, Joaquin Guzman.
Moran said the Zetas have also been hit by arrests, fatal shootings and guns seizures.
"They are running out of people," he said.
Read more in this report by The Associated Press.