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Inmates Escape Venezuelan Prison

October 14, 1999

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Some 35 inmates escaped from a prison in downtown Caracas on Wednesday, fleeing through a 30-foot tunnel they dug from one of the jail’s workshops.

Officials said it was one of the largest jailbreaks in the South American country in years. Venezuela’s prisons are considered to be among the most violent in the world.

Inmates fled from La Planta prison some time before dawn Wednesday, said Gen. Marco Ferreira Torres, head of the National Guard unit assigned to the jail. Officials discovered the tunnel during a routine check in the morning.

The tunnel led to the Francisco Fajardo Highway that is adjacent to the prison.

Venezuela’s jails have been rocked by a series of uprisings in recently partly because of the implementation of a new penal code. The code has led to the release of 2,200 inmates including some gang leaders.

That has created a power struggle for control of the jails among other inmates, officials say.

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