Tacna To Request Closure Of Maximum Security Prison

Peru’s southern Tacna region is to ask the government to close the maximum security prison where 17 inmates escaped on Sunday, state news agency Andina reported.

Tacna’s regional cabinet will send a letter to government palace, the office of the prime minister and Congress to formally make the request.

Tacna says the Challapalca prison has caused unease among the local population, especially following the escape this week. Residents say the prison lacks the necessary security conditions.

The prison, in the highlands of Tarata province in Tacna, is administrated by the Puno region because of its geographical location.  It was built as a maximum security prison during President Fujimori’s administration in 1997, and criticized by the Public Ombudsman and international organizations for the harsh living conditions of altitude and climate (it lies at 4,800 m.a.s.l.).    The prison was then closed for a time, but reopened in 2007 during President Garcia’s administration.

 Seven of the 17 inmates were captured on Monday by Peru’s security forces. These inmates include Jose Luis Torres, alias El Burro, who local media said helped to orchestrate the prison break.

By Tuesday, only two prisoners were still to be captured. The inmates were found in the highlands of Puno and were aiming to cross Peru’s southern border into Bolivia.

One of the recaptured inmates said that the escapees paid an employee of Peru’s national penitentiary institute, INPE, to escape. Radio Programas reported Tuesday that the payment was $15,000.

Attorney General Jose Pelaez said that authorities are investigating if there was complicity on the part of prison workers.

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