TEGUCIGALPA – The process of transferring members of the Mara-18 gang out of the prison from which a score of their comrades escaped last week is under way, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said Tuesday.
With helicopters hovering overhead, hundreds of police and soldiers deployed to the National Penitentiary in Tamara, 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Tegucigalpa, to prepare for the move of Mara-18 inmates to La Tolva, a new maximum-security prison located in the eastern province of El Paraiso.
The INP prisons service revealed last Saturday that 18 Mara-18 members serving time for offenses such as murder and extortion had escaped two days earlier from the National Penitentiary.
While the INP has yet to offer any details, media outlets said Tuesday that the convicts walked out through the main gate after having paid anywhere from 10 million to 15 million lempiras ($422,832 to $634,250) in bribes.
Security forces conducting a search of the prison on Tuesday found millions of lempiras in cash, according to media accounts.
The INP has declined to confirm or deny the reports about the circumstances of the escape or the purported pile of cash.
Anyone shown to have facilitated the mass escape will be held accountable, President Hernandez said Monday.