National Geographic Society

  • Connect:

Inside a Mexican Prison Facts

Prisoners in plain clothes while inside Centro de Ejecución de Sanciones.

Prisoners in plain clothes while inside Centro de Ejecución de Sanciones.

Published
  • Mexico has the largest American prisoner population outside of the United States. In 2001, there were over 600 Americans serving time in Mexican prisons, including 48 in Nuevo Laredo.

  • Nuevo Laredo, Mexico is the largest inland port in the western hemisphere. Around 40% of all U.S.-Mexico trade passes between Nuevo Laredo and its sister city of Laredo, Texas.

  • There are ahalf-dozen major drug cartels operating in Mexico, the largest ones being the Gulf, Sinaloa, and Juarez cartels. The Gulf cartel is said to be present in 13 Mexicanstates.

  • In 2006, Mexican officialslaunched the Northern Border (Frontera Norte) initiative to fight cartel violence along the US-Mexico border, deploying 800 Federal Protective Police (PFP) officers in Nuevo Laredo.

  • Up to 70% of the cocaine and 80% of the methamphetamines sold in the United States are estimated to pass through the 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico.

  • In Mexico – as in many countries - female inmates are allowed to keep their young children with them behind bars. In the United States, only a handful of prisons allow the same privilege.

  • Unlike common law countries such as the United States, Mexico is a civil law country, derived from the Napoleonic code and focused on the text of laws rather than previous court decisions.

  • Under the 1977 Prisoner Transfer Treaty between the United States and Mexico, American prisoners in Mexican jails can choose to serve out their sentences in the United States if their crime is recognized by the laws of both countries.

  • Some Americans convicted in Mexico choose to serve out their time in Mexican prisons due to the fact that some crimes carry shorter sentences in Mexico than the United States.

  • The maximum sentence for murder in Mexico is forty years, although in special cases, the sentence can stretch to sixty years. The death penalty has not been applied in Mexico since 1961and was formally abolished in 2005.
2 comments
elaine baker
elaine baker

I have an American friend and former US Army veteran, who was arrested / accused under false pretenses, and is  sitting in a Mexican prrison. He has not had any help from the local American consulate there, or from the American govenment as a whole. He had a stroke in prison, and now his medication and phone calls are being denied.


My friend Mark, was living in Mexico after retiring as an engineer in CA. He is a grandfather, and an uptanding guy, no criminal record, no history of any drugs or deviant behavior- a normal nice guy. He was accused by a Mexican woman, a neighbor of committing a molestation against  a small boy, the womans grandson.  


This same woman also accused 3-4 other men in the area of similar crimes. Evidently the government makes payments to her for these accusations; and it is on record she needed money. She had recently talked to her church leaders about needing monetary help. 


My friend, in his 60's, has never had any record of pedophilia. This is not an illness that starts in ones 60's, but in ones youth and early adulthood. When my son was very young we often traveled with my friend and his wife and thier children. There was no interest displayed in young children by my friend. he was never the "Pied Piper" type of guy, enchanting children and wanting to spend inordinant time with them.


I am trying to help his daughter to spread the word, as she and her family are heartbroken by this travesty. 

If there is anyone out there with any ideas that would help, or jouranlist willing to write a story, please contact me @ lanenbell@yahoo.com

Thanks so much.


elaine baker
elaine baker

I have an American friend and former US Army veteran, who was arrested / accused under false pretenses, and is  sitting in a Mexican prrison. He has not had any help from the local American consulate there, or from the American govenment as a whole. He had a stroke in prison, and now his medication and phone calls are being denied.


My friend Mark, was living in Mexico after retiring as an engineer in CA. He is a grandfather, and an uptanding guy, no criminal record, no history of any drugs or deviant behavior- a normal nice guy. He was accused by a Mexican woman, a neighbor of committing a molestation against  a small boy, the womans grandson.  


This same woman also accused 3-4 other men in the area of similar crimes. Evidently the government makes payments to her for these accusations; and it is on record she needed money. She had recently talked to her church leaders about needing monetary help. 


My friend, in his 60's, has never had any record of pedophilia. This is not an illness that starts in ones 60's, but in ones youth and early adulthood. When my son was very young we often traveled with my friend and his wife and thier children. There was no interest displayed in young children by my friend. he was never the "Pied Piper" type of guy, enchanting children and wanting to spend inordinant time with them.


I am trying to help his daughter to spread the word, as she and her family are heartbroken by this travesty. 

If there is anyone out there with any ideas that would help, or jouranlist willing to write a story, please contact me @ lanenbell@yahoo.com

Thanks so much.