At least 75 inmates, including members of Brazil's most powerful gang, escaped from a Paraguayan prison on Sunday after digging a tunnel in an operation that prison officials were believed to have been aware, the government said.
The director of the prison in the city of Pedro Juan Caballero, near the Brazilian border, was fired along with six other prison officials, Paraguay's Minister of Justice Cecilia Perez told reporters.
The escaped prisoners included gang members from First Capital Command (PCC), Brazil's most powerful and sophisticated organized crime group, the government said.
“This is a prison break without precedent. This is the biggest prison break from our facilities.” Perez was quoated by New York Times as saying
"It's an operation that took days and it is impossible that the officials did not realize that they were leaving... obviously this was a paid plan," Perez told local radio station Monumental.
Dos pabellones completos de la cárcel de Pedro Juan Caballero quedaron vacíos tras la fuga de 91 reos. Hasta los de la planta alta bajaron para huir. ¿Quién les abrió el portón? ¿Cómo nadie vio la excavación ni las bolsas con arena juntadas en la planta baja?— Iván Leguizamón (@ivanciclon) January 19, 2020
¡Esto es Paraguay! pic.twitter.com/nvGumckRiF
The border region near Pedro Juan Caballero is considered a transit point for drug-trafficking and other criminal activity by gangs like Brazil's PCC and Comando Vermelho, or Red Command.
The government said it alerted Brazil's federal police, but the prisoners are believed to still be in Paraguayan territory.
"In that area there are many woods and they know the territory... these are highly dangerous people," Paraguayan Attorney General Sandra Quinonez told Monumental.