December 19, 2004 Eliza Barclay

…prison’s guards reap more than $3 million a year by doling out privileges and engaging in illicit activities with prisoners, such as selling drugs…

At Reclusorio Norte, corruption is so rampant that every guard is on the take, concedes the warden, Armando Mendez. “If I were to stop it, I would have to fire every guard, and I can’t do that,” he said.

…a report by the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH)…said the nation’s inmates “enjoy privileges or suffer wants depending on their economic resources.”
An unwillingness to participate in prison drug culture can lead to ruthless retribution, some relatives say.

April 10, 1997 Steve Fainaru

…Reclusorio Norte was host to the worst abuses, probably because of its high-profile inmates. “There are various drug traffickers and expublic officials there…They have more resources.”

“Some of the privileged inmates enjoy, each one, five rooms, whereas in Room 9 of Zone 2 it was observed that there were 29 inmates, stacked up side by side.”

February 27, 1997 Steve Fainaru

The traffickers’ “biggest fear is…the American justice system…They’ll volunteer to go to a Mexican jail anytime because they can do as they please. It’s like a restricted country club…”

For a price, they said, prisoners can obtain everything short of freedom, including better cells, software, AT&T calling cards and carefully folded 50-peso packets of cocaine.

With their power and money, the drug traffickers rule the prison…”They have an underground command…what they do is rent six cells and set it up like a six-room house.”

Dormitorio 4…[is] known as the most comfortable dormitory in the prison

April 10, 1997 Molly Moore

…the commission found rooms furnished with large, ornate beds covered in chintz sheets, kitchens stocked with imported food products, saunas, gyms and “gardens you would only find in the most luxurious houses in any country in the world…” In most other areas of the prison, the visitors found squalid and overcrowded conditions…

March 23, 1997 John Ward Anderson Molly Moore

Reclusorio Norte is typical of prisons across Mexico––a reflection of the social and criminal ills that afflict the nation, where the same drug mafias and crime gangs that rule cities and run illicit businesses on the outside move their activities inside the prisons…
While a select few of its high-profile prisoners are living in relative luxury, the majority…are poor men and women who frequently are victimized by inmate gangs and corrupt guards…

Far more insidious than their comfortable living conditions are the illicit businesses…[they] run from their prison apartments and the power they exert over prison operations…[They] control activities from prostitution rings to drug and alcohol concessions, according inmates and former prison officials…

Most guys in maximum have eight to 10 people working for them…

Virtually every inmate has to pay at least five pesos a day…simply to be counted “present” at the thrice-daily security check-ins…

July 21, 1989 William Branigin

…two convicts had bribed prison officials to allow them to turn the two-story cellblocks into virtual villas, where they lived like sultans within the otherwise crowded Reclusorio Norte prison.

…cellblocks also were occasionally used for large parties in which dozens of invited guests were entertained by mariachi bands…