Here is an excerpt from Marc Lacey's article in The New York Times:
"The surveillance cameras captured it all: guards looking on nonchalantly as 53 inmates — many of them associated with one of Mexico’s most notorious drug cartels — let themselves out of their cells and sped off in waiting vehicles. The video shows that prison guards only pulled out their weapons after the inmates were well on their way. The brazen escape in May in the northern state of Zacatecas — carried out in minutes without a single shot fired — is just one of many glaring examples of how Mexico’s crowded and cruel prison system represents a critical weak link in the drug war. Mexico’s prisons, as described by inmates and insiders and viewed during several visits, are places where drug traffickers find a new base of operations for their criminal empires, recruit underlings, and bribe their way out for the right price. The system is so flawed, in fact, that the Mexican government is extraditing record numbers of drug traffickers to the United States, where they find it much harder to intimidate witnesses, run their drug operations or escape." Link to Full Article
Analysis: Most people think that drug traffickers aren't afraid of anything - the law, the government...even death. Not true. They are afraid of one thing, and one thing only - extradition to the United States. Why? The above article says it all. In Mexican prisons, drug traffickers - especially the big ones, like Osiel Cardenas Guillen - live like kings. Not only can they continue to run their operations, but they eat the best food, have hotel room-like amenities, and can even have prostitutes brought in for their pleasure.
And Cardenas Guillen is a really good example. He was arrested and put in a Mexican prison in 2003, but he continued to run the Gulf cartel in the luxury of his cell until his extradition to the US in 2007. He's now awaiting a trial that might not happen if he agrees to provide the US government with valuable intelligence on Mexican DTO personnel and activities. Even so, he's being treated like any other high-value prisoner in the US - maximum security, boring clothes, boring food, and a boring cell. Oh yeah, and that's perhaps for life, with little chance of his cronies breaking him out or corrupt prison guards letting him out.
Mexico has typically been averse to extraditing criminals to the US for trial, but after several high-profile prison breaks in recent years, the Mexican government is finally realizing that maybe it has a prison security problem. The US government is providing Mexico with $4 million to help revamp its prison system. Maybe that's a lot of money in Mexico, but $4 million won't get you much in the US. Then again, with the Mexican economy being in dire straits (like almost every other economy in the hemisphere), every red cent helps.