ABC-13 Anchor Art Rascon revisits El Cesero Prison ahead of Pope Francis historic stop at notorious lockup

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Art Rascon takes a journey inside the Juarez prison. (KTRK)

It wasn't too many years ago when Ciudad Juarez, Mexico was considered the deadliest city in the world. It was the epicenter of two warring drug cartels. Each day the newspapers blasted the ugly headlines about assassinations, police killing and cartel violence.

About 300 people a month were murdered in the city. But that has all changed, the city Pope Francis will visit on Wednesday is a very different place. The cartels have declared a truce and murders have dropped more than 80 percent.

The pontiff will make his way to the same prison 13 Eyewitness News Anchor Art Rascon visited several years ago. Back then, ruthless drug cartel members with life sentences could be found everywhere. It is hoped they will be softened by the Pope's message of redemption. It's not clear which inmates Pope Francis will see, but as spontaneous as he is, he may even visit with murderers like Joaquin.

"Why are you in prison?"

"I messed up," said Joaquin.

"Did you kill someone?"

"No, it was drugs," said Joaquin. "Everyone here is involved with drugs."

There was a time when 10 people a day were killed on the streets of Ciudad Juarez. That number is now around two or three homicides.

What is surprising about the inmates at El Cesero is that most are family men, lured by the lust, greed and fame of the cartels -- all evils the pope has preached against.

Pope Francis' message will be about family, faith and redemption. Within these prison walls of misery, he is sure to find a listening ear.
Related Topics:
religionpope francismexicoprisonHouston
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