Mexico accuses prison officials of homicide after brutal riot

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Relatives Lashout After Prison Riot Leaves Over 50 Dead

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -- The director of a prison in northeast Mexico where 49 people died in a riot this week was accused of murder and detained, along with two others, a state prosecutor said on Saturday.

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The riot, likely the deadliest in Mexico's history, happened in the old and crowded Topo Chico prison in Monterrey, in the state of Nuevo Leon, just days ahead of a planned visit by Pope Francis to another jail in Mexico's far north.

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Riot and fire at Topo Chico prison in Mexico
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Mexico accuses prison officials of homicide after brutal riot
Inmates stand on the rooftop of the Topo Chico prison as police stand guard on the perimeters, after a riot broke out around midnight, in Monterrey, Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Dozens of inmates were killed and several injured in a brutal fight between two rival factions at the prison in northern Mexico, the state governor said. (AP Photo/Emilio Vazquez)
Picture of the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to Nuevo Leon State governor at least 52 people died and 12 were injured in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of inmates argue with the riot police as they gather outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of inmates stand outside the Topo Chico prison, where a riot brokeout around midnight, in Monterrey, Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Dozens of inmates were killed and several injured in a brutal fight between two rival factions at the prison in northern Mexico, the state governor said. (AP Photo/Emilio Vazquez)
A man holds on to a fence surrounding the Topo Chico prison, where a riot broke out around midnight, in Monterrey, Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Dozens of inmates were killed and several injured in a brutal fight between two rival factions at a prison in northern Mexico on Thursday, the state governor said. (AP Photo/Emilio Vazquez)
Relatives of inmates stand facing police outside the Topo Chico prison, where a riot broke out around midnight, in Monterrey, Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Dozens of inmates were killed and several injured in a brutal fight between two rival factions at a prison in northern Mexico on Thursday, the state governor said. (AP Photo/Emilio Vazquez)
Relatives of inmates stand outside the Topo Chico prison facing police, after a riot broke out around midnight, in Monterrey, Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Dozens of inmates were killed and several injured in a brutal fight between two rival factions at a prison in northern Mexico on Thursday, the state governor said. (AP Photo/Emilio Vazquez)
Inmates shout from a barred window at the Topo Chico prison, after a riot broke out around midnight, in Monterrey, Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Dozens of inmates were killed and several injured in a brutal fight between two rival factions at a prison in northern Mexico on Thursday, the state governor said. (AP Photo/Emilio Vazquez)
Relatives of inmates stand outside the Topo Chico prison, where a riot broke out around midnight, in Monterrey, Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Dozens of inmates were killed and several injured in a brutal fight between two rival factions at the prison in northern Mexico, the state governor said. (AP Photo/Emilio Vazquez)
Video grab showing riot police officers deployed outside a prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico on February 11, 2016 where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / FRANCISCO COBOS / AFP / Francisco Cobos (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO COBOS/AFP/Getty Images)
Video grab showing police vehicles leaving a prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico on February 11, 2016 where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / FRANCISCO COBOS / AFP / Francisco Cobos (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO COBOS/AFP/Getty Images)
Video grab showing riot police outside a prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico on February 11, 2016. At least 30 people died in a prison riot on Thursday, local media reported. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO/FRANCISCO COBOS / AFP / Francisco Cobos (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO COBOS/AFP/Getty Images)
Security forces are deployed outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of inmates gather outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Video grab showing riot police and relatives of inmates of a prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico on February 11, 2016. At least 30 people died in a prison riot on Thursday, local media reported. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO/FRANCISCO COBOS / AFP / Francisco Cobos (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO COBOS/AFP/Getty Images)
Video grab showing riot police and relatives of inmates of a prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico on February 11, 2016. At least 30 people died in a prison riot on Thursday, local media reported. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / FRANCISCO COBOS / AFP / Francisco Cobos (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO COBOS/AFP/Getty Images)
Video grab showing security forces deployed in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / FRANCISCO COBOS / AFP / Francisco Cobos (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO COBOS/AFP/Getty Images)
Video grab showing the prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / FRANCISCO COBOS / AFP / Francisco Cobos (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO COBOS/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of inmates gather outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of inmates gather outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of inmates block a road outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Security forces are deployed outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of inmates demonstrate as they gather outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman cries as relatives of inmates gather outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of inmates demonstrate as they gather outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of an inmate tries to break a chain and get into the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Female inmates look to the street from the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of inmates gather outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of inmates demonstrate as they gather outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of inmates demonstrate as they gather outside the Topo Chico prison in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico where according to local media at least 30 people died in a prison riot on February 11, 2016. Riot police and ambulances were deployed at the Topo Chico prison as smoke billowed from the facility. Broadcaster Televisa reported that 30 died while Milenio television spoke of 50 victims, with inmates and prison guards among them. AFP PHOTO / JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP / Julio Cesar Aguilar (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
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The prison warden, Gregoria Salazar, and the deputy superintendent, Jesus Fernando Dominguez, were accused of homicide and abuse of authority and placed in preventive custody, said Roberto Flores, Nuevo Leon's prosecutor.

A prison guard, Jose Reyes Hernandez, was also detained but accused of homicide, Flores told a news conference.

The riot started when fighting broke out in two areas of the Topo Chico prison between supporters of a gang leader known as "Zeta 27" and another group. The prison has long housed members of the feared Zetas drug cartel, who many believed controlled it.

"Who is directly responsible? ... The director of the penitentiary," Flores told reporters.

For much of the last decade, the Zetas spread terror across Mexico before being debilitated by arrests and the deaths of their founding members.

The gang was also linked to another prison murder in Nuevo Leon in 2012, when 44 inmates died after Zetas members plotted with guards to stage an elaborate escape.

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