CARACAS (Xinhua) – Forty-eight inmates died in a prison in the western Venezuelan state of Lara after they self-intoxicated with a drug cocktail last month, authorities said Wednesday.
At least 20 other prisoners that were poisoned remained in coma, Iris Varela, local minister of Penitentiary Affairs, told a local television channel.
“I don’t like talking about that figure. I prefer to say that more than 100 people who took the drugs were saved and there are some who are struggling for their life,” she said.
The official said her office was still investigating what happened in the prison David Viloria, known as Uribana, where over 200 inmates abducted the prison’s nurses and took the drugs to blackmail authorities on November 26.
Day prison guards allowed inmates to assault the health post and military officers were under investigation into their possible involvement of the incident, Varela said, without giving further details.
Three days after the incident, the Venezuelan Prosecutor’s office ordered a probe into what it considered an “irregular situation” in the prison.
Varela attributed the failure within Venezuela’s prison system to “mafias” that turned prisons into a crime and economic industry.