Law Of Escape In Mexico: History, Application, Famous Cases


law of flight

in Mexico it was a measure that consisted of a kind of execution outside the framework of the law. It was an action carried out by the police forces, who simulated the flight of a prisoner in order to execute him.

The normal thing was that the murder of the prisoner was concealed during transfers to different prisons, when there was less surveillance and it was easier to justify the execution.

The leakage law was widely used during the leakage law.  Source: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The leakage law was widely used in Mexico during the government of Porfirio Díaz. Source: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Its application was never officially decreed as a law, but to this day it is believed to remain in force. It was a very popular way of acting during the Porfirio Díaz government. 
Obviously, the flight law was an action contrary to all human rights contained in Mexican law and is considered a crime.

One of the main reasons it began to be used was as a method of retaliation against political rivals. This measure of repression was made known when it was stated that there was a letter written by Porfirio Díaz in which the phrase “kill them hot” could be read.

This type of action in which the attempted escape of prisoners was simulated in order to have an excuse to kill them, was also used in many other countries. It was normal during the Second World War on the part of the Germans, as in other Latin American countries such as Argentina or Guatemala. It has occurred especially in times of dictatorships.

Article index

  • one


    • 1.1


  • two


    • 2.1

      Famous cases

    • 2.2

      Avoid abuse of power

  • 3



Although his name speaks of law, it was not. It was never officially decreed nor was it a method recognized by any government. The reason is very simple, the law of flight is an illegal procedure because it goes against human rights.

The name is rather a euphemism that was used to cover what is really done in these cases, which is murder.

In the ‘Porfiriato’ the leakage law was an action to repress all the people who were against the government of the day. It is believed that it was used more after the uprising that occurred in Veracruz during 1879.

At that time, Luis Mier y Terán held the position of governor in the port state and received a letter signed by President Porfirio Díaz. In one of his lines, the president said to kill the rebels who had taken control of the ship Libertad hot.

Mier y Terán carried out the order and killed nine people. To justify the deaths, it was said that when the arrests began, these nine rebels pounced on the military who had to shoot them to defend themselves.

The writing was never known or made public. There are even other versions that assure that Díaz’s words were different, such as: “if they are caught on the spot, kill them imminently.” The president’s followers always denied these stories and affirmed that everything was an invention of Governor Terán to get rid of guilt.


There are historians who affirm that this method was used since ancient times in Mexico, but the truth is that it was very repeated during the government of Porfirio Díaz.

In years prior to the ‘Porfiriato’ there was much talk of putting criminals under arms before they were tried. Many of these cases were made known, especially in the state of Jalisco.

Ironically, especially knowing the subsequent events, Porfirio Díaz was one of the politicians who opposed these measures during the 1950s. By then, the future president was just a young military man with a different perspective on life.

This opposition was made public during the La Noria revolution thanks to a manuscript made by Díaz in the 70s.


The methodology used to apply the law of flight was very simple and perhaps that is why it was very evident. It basically consisted of sentencing a prisoner to die and then executed by recreating an alleged escape.

The chances of getting out alive when it was said that a prisoner was going to be applied the law of escape were almost nil. The prisoners were released and given the opportunity to flee, but when they tried to escape the police forces began to shoot at them. If they avoided the bullets they had freedom.

Many prisoners who suffered the escape law were also shot in the neck when they had already been killed. It was a way of ensuring that the death had been completed successfully.

Between 1861 and 1914 there were police forces in Mexico known as rural, which were groups in charge of order in rural areas. They were allegedly prohibited from applying the law of flight. Although historians recognize that they were the protagonists of some cases.

The press had a very important role during the nineteenth century to try to determine who were the guilty of committing these crimes that they tried to disguise with the law of escape. They used to differentiate between police officers in local areas and those with jurisprudence at the federal level.

Likewise, there was great confusion about the culprits of the application of this law. Normally the work of the rural people consisted of delivering the people they captured.

Although it had a great boom during his presidency, the law of flight did not end when the Porfirio Díaz regime fell. It is believed that during this period of Mexican history more than ten thousand people died due to the application of this method of repression.

Famous cases

Undoubtedly the most important case of the leakage law occurred in Veracruz and is what many historians define as the beginning of the application of this repressive method by the government of Porfirio Díaz.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the newspaper


disclosed that the local police of Lagos de Moreno murdered seven people following the methodology of the leakage law. Among these people, the Jalisco police killed four individuals who were contrary to local politics and three criminals.

The paper of the newspaper


It was very important in spreading the word about these human rights violations. Shortly after, they were also in charge of telling the case of Carlos Coronado, who was also assassinated.

There were even occasions when the judges demanded the protection of certain prisoners so that they would not suffer any kind of danger, but the law of flight was still applied. This happened for example in 1897 in Teocuitatlán.

The dictatorships of Latin American countries also applied the law of escape and years later it was a method widely used by the Nazi army.

Avoid abuse of power

Over the years, multiple tasks were carried out to prevent the violation of human rights, especially of prisoners. Different tools have been created to regulate the use of weapons by police forces, although these guidelines are not always met.

In the case of Mexico, anyone who provides facilities for a prisoner to flee is punished with a penalty of six months to nine years.


  1. Flores Rangel, Juan José.

    History of Mexico II


  2. Lara, Fernando Luis.

    Basic Dictionary Of Spanish In Mexico

    . The College of Mexico, 1986.

  3. Lund, Joshua.

    The Mestizo State

    . Univ. Of Minnesota Press, 2012.

  4. Marley, David.

    Mexico At War

    . ABC-Clio, 2014.

  5. Turner, John Kenneth, and Alberto Olvera Rivera.

    Barbarian Mexico

    . Veracruzana University, 2011.

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