The Strange ‘Trojan Taco’ Escape From Huntsville Prison

“But if these years have taught me anything it is this: you can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in.” —Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

In A Nutshell

The Huntsville Unit is Texas’s most infamous prison, but its reputation didn’t scare Federico Carrasco. In 1974, the incarcerated drug lord and two cronies took 15 hostages and demanded an armored car. After 11 days, the convicts improvised a bizarre escape attempt with rolling chalkboards armored with hundreds of law books. As one would expect, the whole fiasco ended in a deadly gunfight.

The Whole Bushel

Nicknamed “El Viejo” (the Old Man), Federico Carrasco ran a massive drug empire that dealt coke and heroin across Mexico, Texas, and California. And when he wasn’t selling narcotics, he was busy killing people. Local legend says Carrasco murdered over 40 people, and in 1972, he was arrested for shooting at San Antonio police officers. The gangster was sentenced to life inside of Texas’s notorious Huntsville prison. But the drug lord had no intention of staying behind bars.

Huntsville is best known for its red brick walls and its infamous execution chamber, but Carrasco wasn’t intimidated. He wasted no time hooking up with two convicts named Ignacio Cuevas and Rudolfo Domingues, and the three began plotting their escape. Carrasco knew they’d need guns so he had his gang members smuggle in several pistols hidden in a ham and bullets inside a can of peaches. On July 24, 1974, the prisoners armed themselves and stormed the third-floor library, kicking off one of the longest prison hostage standoffs in American history.

When they broke into the room, Carrasco fired a warning shot and took 15 hostages, 11 of whom were civilian employees. He forced his prisoners to barricade the doors with their bodies, and as there weren’t any windows, he didn’t have to worry about snipers. Now, he just needed to negotiate with the FBI agents and Texas Rangers amassing outside. On the second day of the siege, Carrasco took a new hostage, Father Joseph O’Brien, who’d been acting as a go-between. He then told authorities he wanted more weapons. When his demand was turned down, he asked for handcuffs, and the negotiators complied—a decision they’d later regret.

But despite Carrasco’s planning, the situation spun out of control. One of the hostages had a heart attack and had to be released. Inspired, a second hostage actually faked a heart attack. Carrasco fell for it and released her, too. Finally, a third hostage made a run for it. He was a prison stoolie and thought Carrasco might’ve discovered his backstabbing ways. Fearing for his life, the prisoner bolted through the library and dove through the glass doors. Topping everything off, 10 days into the stand-off, a storm knocked out the air conditioning. The room got very hot and very tense.

On the eleventh day, Carrasco said he’d free the hostages in exchange for an armored car. The authorities agreed, but really, they had no intentions of letting Carrasco drive away. Expecting a fight, Carrasco ordered his hostages to build a mobile shield, taping together rolling chalkboards covered in 325 kilograms (700 lbs) of legal textbooks. Carrasco, Cuevas, and Domingues each handcuffed themselves to a hostage and, along with Father O’Brien, took refuge inside the media-dubbed “Trojan Taco.”

While the convicts hunkered down, the remaining hostages rolled the shield outside down a series of ramps. That’s when authorities struck, spraying everyone with a high-powered fire hose. They nearly toppled the Trojan Taco, but then the hose malfunctioned. Furious, the gangsters began firing through holes they’d drilled through the blackboards. The officers fired back, and 22 minutes later, two hostages were wounded, and two were dead, both murdered by the crooks. Authorities had killed Domingues, and Carrasco had taken his own life. Only Cuevas remained, and he paid the price for all three when he was executed on May 23, 1991.

Show Me The Proof

Huntsville Penitentiary, by Theresa Jach
Houston Chronicle: Survivors recall terror of 1974 prison siege

  • Rijul Ballal

    Tacos are awesome…

    • Lisa 39

      I’m glad i wasn’t in that one

      • lbatfish

        I’m glad you weren’t, either. 🙂

        BTW, do you think it would fool the mods if the three of us decide that in all future KN comments “(insert word here) is awesome” will secretly mean the F-word? You know — the Word-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named that ends with “-irst”?

        • Lisa 39

          Thanks :), maybe we could do it with the right word, its funny that that’s our f word, at my house the f word is fat lol

          • lbatfish

            My favorite substitute-word for “fat” is “ample”.

          • Lisa 39

            Mine is extra healthy but well padded works also lol

          • TheMadHatter

            My substitute word for fat is fluffy

          • Lisa 39

            That’s a good one, i have a large 16 yr old who weighs 100 lbs more than i do, he says he’s big boned and buff lol

          • TheMadHatter

            I was actually referring to Gabriel Iglesias’ skit “The five levels of fat” and “The sixth levels of fat”.
            A link to the second one-
            http://www.comedycentral.com/video-clips/32b85n/stand-up-gabriel-iglesias–the-sixth-level-of-fat

          • Lisa 39

            Thank you madhatter, that’s funny, i haven’t sat down and watched the whole thing but i’ve seen parts of it when the kids we’re watching, they love him as a comedian, they say he’s lol funny!

          • TheMadHatter

            No problem! I love all of his skits, and other comedians. I’ve seen a few live at, get this, bluegrass festivals. Gotta love bluegrass and stand-up. Everyone once in a while I’ll say “Aw hell no!” Which would be offensive but people don’t watch his skits so I’m saved. Thank goodness, they could crush me if they knew.

          • Lisa 39

            I would never have thought to put bluegrass with stand up, that’s funny by itself, you’re awful brave tho, to risk life and limb for ‘aw hell no’ maybe you really are a madhatter!

          • TheMadHatter

            The musicians do like to make a few good jokes during the show. If you were referring to the music SHAME. Southerners take our bluegrass very seriously. And you would be surprised how many people think you are complimenting them if you call me fluffy.

          • Lisa 39

            Bluegrass and gospel, very serious business down south, that’s funny about the compliments, you could get in trouble if anyone starts watching the same comedians as you lol what’s shame?

          • TheMadHatter

            I meant shame on you if you thought that bluegrass was stupid lol. Gospel is definitely big, I am a Christian myself. And most people prefer to just keep walking and pretend that I was complimenting them. I should probably pay attention in class so I’ll have to leave haha. Ttyl

          • Lisa 39

            No i don’t think anything bad about bluegrass, i like most music, ttyl 🙂

          • lbatfish

            I mis-remembered this similar-topic vid as being a Chris Farley routine (when it was actually John Pinnette), but found it eventually: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdwuiyO7hOU

          • TheMadHatter

            I love it! Comedy is the best. And if we are doing a chain of these, I have one that I saw live about Chinese, the song starts at 0:40-
            http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RrI8V9ffMdg&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DRrI8V9ffMdg

  • Scott

    So the officers opened fire on the hostages and escapees, but somehow the two dead hostages were killed by the prisoners? I’m calling BS. Sounds like a classic case of cops covering for each other.

    • Lisa 39

      Thankfully it was only 2 hostages.

      • throbbing

        Moo

        • lbatfish

          Why an upvote for comment above? Just because . . . it’s awesome.

    • Joseph

      It actually doesn’t make a difference who actually killed the hostages. They would have still technically been murdered by the prisoners. When someone dies during the commission of a felony, the criminals committing the felony are charged with murder.

      • Scott

        That’s bullshit. So cops aren’t held responsible for blowing away innocent bystanders? Screw that.

        • Joseph

          The quick answer to that is if the cops are guilty of murder while a felony is being committed by criminals both the criminals and the cops involved would be just as legally responsible for the death. All of them would be charged with murder.

  • Мария Конарева

    Any fraudster can be checked on the site https://plut.com.ua/
    And if you are dissolved, then be sure to report the scammer on this social resource.