A total of 967 inmates sentenced to prison terms for federal crimes were moved to Penitentiary 12 in Ocampo, a city in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, the Public Safety Secretariat said.

The new prison was built as part of a public-private partnership, the secretariat said.

Of the first 198 inmates transferred to the new prison, 66 were from Aguascalientes state and 132 were from Nuevo Leon, where they were had been housed in state prisons.

The remaining 769 inmates will be moved to the new prison by the end of the weekend from penitentiaries in Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Sonora, Baja California and Guerrero states.

Penitentiary 12, a state-of-the-art facility, was inaugurated on Oct. 9 by President Felipe Calderon, the secretariat said.

The government plans to build eight new prisons with space for 20,000 inmates under the new public-private partnership model, the secretariat said.

The new prisons are being built to ease overcrowding at existing facilities across Mexico.

Some 44,000 inmates, according to official figures, faced federal sentences in 2006, when the Calderon administration took office, but federal facilities had room for only 3,164 inmates, forcing the government to come up with a plan to build 40,000 new spaces for inmates. EFE