Mt Eden Prison attack: Nine gang-linked prisoners face charges after unprovoked attack on three Comanchers

Nine gang-affiliated inmates at Auckland’s Mt Eden Correctional Facility face internal charges after assaulting three rival inmates during an unprovoked brawl.

Mt Eden Prison Director Dian Paki said Herald when a fight broke out yesterday morning, three inmates were attacked in the prison common room.

The incident began when an inmate attacked another inmate in what appeared to be an unprovoked attack. Other prisoners tried to defend the prisoner who was being attacked, while others started attacking two other prisoners,” Paki said.

A prison employee, who wished to remain anonymous, told officers Herald members of rival gangs Mongrel Mob and Black Power joined forces to attack three members of the Comancheros gang during an altercation.

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Paki said staff responded quickly to bring the incident under control.

“I commend them for their courage and professionalism in this difficult and dangerous situation.”

Inmates involved in the robbery were cared for by medical staff on site, and one inmate, a member of the Comancheros gang, traveled off-scene for further medical evaluation but returned to prison later that day.

A Department of Corrections spokesman confirmed the injured inmate was not stabbed but could not provide any information about his injuries.

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No other injuries were reported.

The Herald asked the police for comment.

“We do not tolerate any assaults or violent behavior, and any inmate who engages in such behavior will be held accountable,” Paki said.

“This may occur as a result of internal allegations of misconduct, a change in classification or a referral to the police for consideration of criminal prosecution.”

Mt Eden is a remand prison, which means that most of the men there have been charged with, but not convicted of, a crime.

Paki said it was a complex and challenging environment, home to some of New Zealand’s most dangerous people.

“More than 75 percent of prisoners have prior convictions for violence, and more than 90 percent have a lifetime diagnosis of a mental or substance use disorder. Gang members are also disproportionately identified as responsible for prison assaults,” Paki said.

“The reality is that we cannot completely eliminate the risk of violence, but we are constantly working to provide the safest environment possible for staff and prisoners. We have invested significantly in training and tools to keep our employees safe. This includes tactical skills such as de-escalation, through to the introduction of stab-resistant body armor and the wider use of pepper spray.”

An anonymous employee at Mt Eden Prison described conditions at the prison as “harsh”.

“A lot of people don’t realize how hard this job is until you get here.

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“I was hospitalized in the past because of one of these fights… Whenever something like this happens, some people leave and others stay.”

In December, an inmate at the facility was stabbed multiple times in a frenzied attack using an improvised weapon.

Paki said the victim suffered multiple stab wounds from the improvised weapon. He was taken to hospital but returned to prison the same day after receiving medical approval.

The situation at the prison reflects the prison’s long-standing staffing problems, the head of the trade union representing corrections officers said after the stabbing.

Prison association president Floyd du Plessis said the facility is on a reduced schedule, meaning measures have been taken to enable it to operate with fewer staff.