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Man involved in prison riot sentenced today

NATCHEZ — The first man of an unknown number of inmates involved in the May 20 prison riot in Adams County that killed a guard and caused an estimated $1.3 million in damage to the Adams County Correctional Center set to be sentenced in federal court in Natchez today.

Juan Lopez-Fuentes pleaded guilty in late August to taking part in the riot. At least two other inmates, Yoany Oriel Serrano-Bejarano and Pedro De Los Reyes, have been charged in connection with the incident.

According to earlier court filings, the riot started during a mass movement when the alleged leadership a group of Mexican nationals known as Paisas — it means “countrymen” — told the members of the group to disobey orders from prison officials until a list of demands could be presented to the prison’s administration. The filing states the inmates were disgruntled about the food, medical service and “disrespectful staff members” at the prison.

When prison officials tried to contain the disobedience, it erupted into a full-scale riot that lasted from approximately 2 to 9 p.m. May 20, eventually contained by the prison’s special response team and the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s SWAT team.

During the riot, inmates destroyed prison facilities, raided food and commissary services, took correctional officers hostage and used ladders and stacked food service carts to climb onto the roof of prison buildings and assault guards there, including Catlin Carithers, 24, who later died from injuries he received in the assault.

The court filings indicated Lopez-Fuentes had been identified as one of the inmates who was present in an area where correctional officers were being held hostage.

“Lopez-Fuentes would quiet the crowd of rioting inmates and then give (correctional officers) orders to relay to (authorities),” the filing states, orders that included for responders to drop their weapons or hostages would be harmed.

The filing also states that Lopez-Fuentes acknowledged to being part of the riot, and stole items from the commissary, broke windows in a housing unit and was in possession of a staff member’s radio.

Lopez-Fuentes faces 10 years prison time at sentencing.

Serrano-Bejarano has pleaded “not guilty to the charges against him. Reyes has not yet been arraigned.

A federal immigration prison, Adams County Correctional Center houses approximately 2,500 inmates and is operated by Corrections Corporation of America.