San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Alert at Borders Following Guatemalan Jailbreak

GUATEMALA CITY (EFE) – TheGuatemalan government announced a stateof alert for the nation’s borders Saturday toprevent 19 fugitives from a maximum securityprison from leaving the country.Interior Minister Carlos Vielman saidthe main purpose of the alert was to shoreup security along the border with ElSalvador – Guatemala’s neighbor to thesouth – given that the jailbreak occurred inthe southern province of Escuintla.He said the government is offering areward from approximately $3,250 to$6,500 to anyone who can provide informationon the fugitives’ whereabouts.Two helicopters flew over the region insearch of the escaped prisoners, while thearmy has closed off all roads in Escuintlaand was monitoring the area surroundingthe prison, local radio reported.Prison system spokesman NeryMorales confirmed that the inmates managedto escape Saturday morning from thepenitentiary – known by the nickname “ElInfiernito” (“The Little Hell”) – through atunnel they had dug in the southern part ofthe facility.That prison was also the site of a massivejailbreak involving 78 inmates on June17, 2001. Most of those prisoners werelater recaptured.Vielman, who said no one was injuredin the escape, said photographs of some ofthe fugitives who had been identified werebeing sent to border areas.He added that some of the prison’sguards were being held while authoritiesinvestigate whether any of them wereinvolved in the jailbreak.Police officers and army soldiers werescouring the area looking for the fugitives,some of whom have been convicted of kidnappingand murder.

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