(Bloomberg) -- A prison break in Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez left 17 people dead and allowed 25 inmates to escape in a revival of the penitentiary-system violence that paralyzed the US bordering city last year.

The attack on Sunday was led by armed intruders who broke into the prison in the same city where violence between rival gangs left civilians dead in August. State authorities are investigating the case and looking for the escaped leader of the criminal group Los Mexicles, the federal government said.

In remarks to the press Monday, National Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said “there was overpopulation at the prison” and that state authorities could have filed a petition to move excess inmates through a federal program. 

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Ciudad Juarez, which reached infamy in the early 2000s due to high rates of murdered women and for prolonged drug-fueled violence, sits just across the border from Texas. The attack on the prison may have been sparked by an attempt to free gang leader Ernesto Alfredo Pinon, known as “El Neto.” His cartel-linked group was also involved in the August shootings, federal officials said. 

Extra National Guard forces and the army have been sent to the city to locate and capture the escaped inmates. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government has been criticized for its security strategy, informally known as “abrazos, no balazos” or “hugs, not bullets.” 

The government has said its plan has been effective in reducing homicides.

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