JACKSON, Miss. — A deadly riot at a prison for undocumented immigrants in Mississippi was started by a group of Mexican inmates angry about what they considered poor food and medical care and disrespectful guards, according to an FBI agent's affidavit.
One guard was killed and 20 people were injured in the May 20 riot at the privately-run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, which holds undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes in the United States.
The leaders of the Mexican inmates, known as the Paisas, demanded to take a list of grievances to the warden that day and told others in the group to disobey orders from prison staff, according to the FBI affidavit. The affidavit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Jackson, is part of a complaint charging one of the inmates with rioting.
Correction officer Catlin Carithers was beaten to death during the riot, which officials have said involved as many as 300 inmates and left the prison badly damaged. The affidavit does not say who killed Carithers.
The affidavit says the Paisas were the most influential group in the prison. But it had recently gone through a shake-up in its leadership because members thought the old leaders weren't effective in communicating complaints to prison officials. The new leaders – Ernesto "Neto" Granados and Juan "Bobby" Arredondo – allegedly ordered the Paisas to disobey prison staff by refusing to return to their cells until their demands were met.
FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said Paisas are a loosely affiliated group within the prison, without ties to organized gangs.
"The Paisas were further instructed by their new leaders to destroy the prison if staff made any attempts to break up the riot," the affidavit said. It says damages to the prison are estimated at more than $1.3 million. "In addition to destroying the prison, Paisas planned to assault the correction officers."
At one point, the inmates gained access to a section of the prison by telling the warden they wanted to go back to their cells, but they ended up taking more hostages once they got into that part of the facility, the affidavit said. Other inmates were able to break through a fence and get a 32-foot ladder, which they used to get on the roof of a building. That's where Carithers was killed.
The affidavit describes a chaotic scene in which inmates were picking up tear gas canisters and hurling them back at guards. Some guards locked themselves in safe rooms, but the inmates used keys taken from other officers to get into the rooms. They also looted the kitchen and commissary.
The affidavit is part of a criminal complaint that alleges that Juan Lopez-Fuentes was in charge of a group of inmates who took hostages in one section of the prison. Lopez-Fuentes allegedly forced one of the hostages, a prison guard, to relay orders for tactical teams to drop their weapons and back off.
The prison's special response team and the Mississippi Highway Patrol's SWAT team worked to end the riot while state and area law enforcement officers, some from neighboring Louisiana, helped secure the outside, officials have said.
The prison holds nearly 2,500 low-security inmates, with most serving time for coming back to the United States after being deported. The facility is owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation's largest private prison companies.
Attorneys could not be found for Granados and Arredondo. Lopez-Fuentes' attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Michael David Elliot
In this surveillance photo from a Middlebury, Ind., gas station provided by the Michigan State Police is Michael David Elliot who escaped from the Ionia Correctional Facility in mid-Michigan Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 after creating a hole at the bottom of the two perimeter fences and crawling through, according to authorities. Elliot was serving a life sentence for fatally shooting four people and burning down their Gladwin County house in 1993.
Ronaldo Silva allegedly broke out of a Brazilian prison by dressing in drag in April 2012. He was caught less than an hour later by a cop who noticed that he was walking funnily in heels. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/prison-escape-in-drag_n_1431558.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Tiffany Hurd, 36, actually allegedly commited a jail break-IN. She was nabbed in July 2012 trying to hop a barbed-wire fence to enter Butler County Jail in Ohio. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/30/tiffany-hurd-jail-ohio_n_1719531.html" target="_hplink">Read more. </a>
Philippine Jail Break
Eleven prisoners, including bandit leader Datukan Samad, allegedly hacksawed their way through the iron grills of Maguindanao Province Jail in July 2012. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/philippine-jail-escape-datukan-samad_n_1661789.html" target="_hplink"> Read more.</a>
This picture shows 3 of the 4 inmates who allegedly escaped from a central Kansas jail in April 2012. Murderer Santos Carrera-Morales (center), kidnapper Eric James (left), assault convict Alberto Barraza-Lujan (not pictured) and aggravated battery convict Drew Wade (right) were all eventually discovered in Nebraska by authorities. The incident raised questions about prison security. 3 of the 4 prisoners allegedly drove away from the jail in a Nissan Altima. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/20/santos-carrera-morales-escaped-murderer-caught_n_1440194.html" target="_hplink"> Read more.</a>
Sometimes furry critters want to join the convicts. In July 2012, authorities removed a bobcat crawling around the roof of the Monroe Correctional Complex in Washington. Check out the animalicious video <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/bobcat-breaks-into-prison_n_1679634.html" target="_hplink">here.</a>
Cortez Hooper, Quincy Stewart
Murder suspects Hooper and Stewart allegedly escaped from a jail in Arkansas in May 2012. The pair reportedly used a hacksaw to break the bars on the windows of their second-story cells and smashed a pane of glass. Authorities say they pushed their mattresses out the window to soften their landings. The two were discovered by authorities shortly thereafter. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/28/arkansas-jail-break-manhunt_n_1551158.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Failed Jail Break Plot
Donald Kohut and Justin Heflin were charged with plotting to help murderer Christa Pike escape from prison in March 2012. Pike was convicted with her then-boyfriend of the 1996 slaying of Colleen Slemmer. The motive for murder was believed to stem from a love triangle. Pike and Tadaryl Shipp carved a pentagram into Slemmer's chest and then stabbed and beat her to death, according to authorities. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/21/christa-gail-pike-jail-break_n_1369934.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Suitcase Prison Plot
In July 2011, Maria del Mar Arjona, 19, allegedly tried to sneak her inmate husband Juan Ramirez Tijerina out of prison in Mexico in some luggage. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/04/suitcase-prison-escape-mexico_n_890012.html" target="_hplink"> Read more.</a>
Armin Christian, 65, was found in May 2012 after fleeing prison in South Carolina 31 years ago. Christian was reportedly living in Rhode Island as a handyman under a new name. He was originally sentenced to 11 months in prison for failing to pay child support. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/25/armin-christian-arrested-escaping-prison-south-carolina_n_1545604.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Man Got Out To Get Off
Even inmates can get horny. In March 2012, murder suspect Arien L'Italien allegedly left his cell and wandered over to the women's inmate block, in order to have sex with Karla Wilson. Authorities spotted L'Italien as he was crawling back to his cell. L'Italian and Wilson were both then transferred to different areas of the facility. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/13/arien-litalien-escapes-jail-sex-karla-wilson-maine_n_1342421.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>