Inmate charged in prison riotPublished 12:08am Friday, September 7, 2012
NATCHEZ — A second inmate has been charged in the deadly May 2012 prison riot at the Adams County Correctional Center and is accused of helping inmates access the roof where one guard was killed.
A complaint affidavit against Yoany Oriel Serrano-Bejarano, filed Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball in Jackson, charges the defendant with “instigating, conniving, willfully attempting to cause, assist or conspiring to cause a riot…”
The first inmate charged in the riot, Juan Lopez-Fuentes, pleaded guilty to the charges against him in federal court Aug. 27. Lopez-Fuentes acted as a leader for inmates who took hostages during the riot, giving orders and demands to be relayed over radio during negotiations. He is scheduled for sentencing Nov. 19.
The affidavit against Serrano-Bejarano, sworn by FBI agent Tye M. Breedlove, in many parts mirrored verbatim the narrative presented in the filing against Lopez-Fuentes, though in places the narrative is changed to show Serrano-Bejarano’s role in the incident.
The story the filing tells is one of a Mexican prison group known as Paisas upset with the prison’s operations and the gang’s own leadership for a perceived failure to communicate their desires with prison officials. The group ousted its leaders, replacing them with new ones who told the Paisas to disobey correctional officers in order that the new leadership would be able to present their grievances. The grievances reportedly included a list of officers the inmates wanted removed from ACCC.
On May 20, the disobedience began at approximately 1:30 p.m., and by 3 p.m. the inmates began to kick and tear at gates in the prison, trying to get into the staff safe zones.
Prisoners gathered at one gate were ordered to step back and return to recreation yards. Serrano-Bejarano was identified as one of the inmates who refused to comply, the affidavit states, and allegedly told correctional officers the inmates were not going anywhere and demanded that the gate be opened. He reportedly used his shirt to cover his face, an action other inmates began to imitate.
Correctional officers began deploying gas canisters, and inmates began to throw the canisters and rocks back at them, destroying fences and surveillance cameras.
Inmates were able to sneak through a fence and steal a ladder to get onto the roof of one of the buildings and assault a correctional officer there. Others — including allegedly Serrano-Bejarano — stacked food carts in order to reach officers on the roofs of other buildings. Correctional officer Catlin Carithers was killed on the roof of one of the buildings accessed by the stacked food carts after he received blunt trauma to the head.
The inmates tore through the facility, taking items from the kitchen and stealing keys from correctional officers, taking other officers hostage. They entered housing areas, including the special housing unit, and tried to free members of the Paisas and possibly assault their enemies.
The affidavit states that an inmate who participated in the riot witnessed Serrano-Bejarano assault one of the correctional officers while they were being held hostage.
“Serrano-Bejarano was also observed to be in possession of a staff radio during the riot and contributing to the destruction of parts of the facility, including destroying cameras and windows,” the affidavit states.
The prison’s special response team and the Mississippi Highway Patrol eventually secured the prison, with the riot fully controlled at 9 p.m.
Serrano-Bejarano was released from custody Aug. 28 for the time he was serving for his prior crimes, and was remanded to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The new charges will prevent his deportation.