US federal prisons remain in lockdown after two Texas inmates killed

Fight involving two members of notorious street gang led to fatalities and injuries

Andrew Buncombe
Tuesday 01 February 2022 23:27 GMT
More than 120 federal prisons across the US
More than 120 federal prisons across the US (Getty Images)

The entire US federal prison system remains in a nationwide lockdown after two inmates were killed and two others were injured during a gang altercation at a federal penitentiary in Texas.

The incident happened at around 11.30am on Monday at USP Beaumont, a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas, located about 90 miles east of Houston.

All four inmates taken to the hospital after fighting broke out, where Guillermo Riojas, 54, and Andrew Pineda, 34, were pronounced dead by staff.

The lockdown was quickly put in place in all 122 federal prisons out of a fear that the violence or retaliation could spread to other facilities, a law enforcement source told NBC News.

“The Lock-down was initiated out of an abundance of caution due to current events that occurred at another facility. This order is to ensure the safety and security of all staff and inmates,” a text sent out to Bureau staff.

The attack was just the latest example of serious violence within the beleaguered federal Bureau of Prisons.

The agency has struggled through a multitude of crises in recent years, including widespread staffing shortages, serious employee misconduct, a series of escapes and deaths.

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During a nationwide lockdown, inmates are kept in their cells most of the day and visiting is cancelled. Because of a spike in coronavirus cases in federal prisons, social visits at nearly every facility have been cancelled already.

Officials have said they have already administered 200,000 Covid vaccine shots to try and stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Officials last implemented a lockdown in April 2020 as coronavirus cases began skyrocketing in prisons nationwide, again after the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6 2021, and shortly before the inauguration of president Joe Biden later that month.

The Bureau said that it expected the lockdown to be “short-lived.”

“For safety and security reasons, the BOP does not elaborate on specific security procedures,” spokesman Emery Nelson said.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to questions from The Independent.

The AP said the lockdown took place after officers at the Texas prison observed multiple inmates fighting and responded to secure the area.

There have been a number of serious security issues within the federal prison system in the last few months, including several inmate deaths and stabbings.

Several inmates have escaped from the prison complex in Beaumont in recent years and union officials have decried what they've described as a serious staffing crisis at the prison. The AP reported in June that security at the complex is so lax that local law enforcement officials privately joke about its seemingly "open-door policy”.

Riojas was serving a 38-year sentence for carjacking and interfering with interstate commerce. Pineda had been sentenced to a term of more than six years in prison on a racketeering charge and had been held at the prison since February.

In November 2007, two Beaumont inmates stabbed another inmate to death on the penitentiary's special housing unit after they broke free from handcuffs, shanked two correctional officers who were escorting them to their cells and stole cell keys.

They were convicted and sentenced to death. A few months later, in February 2008, a Beaumont inmate was strangled to death in his cell by two other inmates – one of them the co-founder of the prison gang Dead Man Incorporated.

The Texas prison houses 1,372 male inmates.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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