Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has ordered a lockdown on parts of the 4th Avenue Jail, as the sheriff's office says the Mexican Mafia is "attempting to control" the jail.
"Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio ordered parts of the maximum security 4th Avenue Jail be placed on indefinite lockdown as racial tensions rise -- tensions brought on by orders from the Mexican Mafia chieftains who appear to be trying to control the downtown jail," the sheriff's office says. "Arpaio's move to lockdown the jail aims to protect not only officers but inmates as well."
The sheriff's office says the jail's intelligence unit has discovered Mexican Mafia "Chieftains" in the closed-custody unit have been giving orders to all Hispanic inmates in the jail to refuse being housed with black inmates.
The so-called "Chieftains" have been "demanding" racial fights, the sheriff's office says, and detention officers who intervened have been threatened.
"[L]ast Monday, a large scale fight involving 25 Hispanic and black inmates broke out before detention officers could quell the problem," according to the MCSO. "No serious injuries were reported."
Arpaio says jail officers have been monitoring the Mexican Mafia members' communications, and says the Mexican Mafia members have been ordering "racial beat downs" on black inmates, and are ordering fellow inmates to attempt to engage detention officers.
"Most of the violence is occurring on the 3rd floor of the jail so that entire block of 750 inmates is on lockdown," Arpaio says in a statement. "All privileges including canteen, visitation, phone and recreation have been suspended until further notice. Our goal is to break the bond between the Mexican mafia chieftains and the lower level Hispanic inmates. The Mexican mafia doesn't run this jail -- we do."
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According to the sheriff's office, officers are finding more shanks and other contraband during this attempted Mexican Mafia uprising, and one jail officer actually had to move his family out of their home due to threats.
Other officers have also been reassigned for their safety, according to the MCSO.
On that note, the sheriff's office says the 4th Avenue Jail is "the most secure maximum (security) facility in the Southwestern United States.
And if anyone cares, the sheriff's office has provided a racial breakdown of the jail's 1,800 male inmates: 735 white men, 556 Hispanic, 415 black, 79 Native American, 15 Asian, and seven "other."