Ecuador declares prison emergency after 118 deaths in riots

Quito, Ecuador-The Ecuadorian president declared an emergency in the prison system after gang members fought in a coastal blockade, killing at least 118 people and injuring 79.

Officials said at least five of the dead were found to be decapitated.

Dozens of police, military vehicles, and ambulances entered the prison grounds on Thursday. A helicopter jumped over the area.

There may be more bodies and seriously injured people in the prison, said Colonel Tanya Barrera, commander of the National Police.

Hundreds of people wanted to gather outside the Guayaquil Crime Institute to collect the bodies of relatives who believed they had been killed in prison. The prosecution said on Twitter that police are working to identify the body.

Ecuadorian prison violence
On September 29, 2021, a truck outside the morgue in Guayaquil, Ecuador, contains a casket of the bodies of prisoners killed in a riot in a litral prison. (Angel DeJesus / AP Photo)

Police officer Henry Coral urged his family to help expedite the identification of the body by telling authorities about the tattoos, scars, or other salient features of the allegedly killed prisoner. Some bodies were cut or incinerated, making them difficult to identify.

President Guillermo Lasso issued a state of emergency on Wednesday. This gives government authority, including the placement of police and soldiers in prisons. The order accused gangsters of an international drug cartel fighting to manage the facility the day after bloodshed in a littoral prison in Guayaquil.

“It’s a shame that prisons have become the territory of power conflicts by criminal organizations,” Lasso said, acting with “absolute firmness” to regain control of prisons and spread violence to other prisons. To prevent.

Images disseminated on social media showed dozens of bodies in prison pavilions 9 and 10 and scenes that looked like battlefields. Officials said the fighting took place with firearms, knives and bombs. Earlier, regional police commander Fausto Buenaño stated that the body had been found in a prison pipeline.

Outside the prison morgue, prisoner relatives cried and some explained to reporters the cruelty of their loved ones being decapitated and dismantled.

Ecuadorian prison violence
Relatives of the prisoners are waiting for news outside the literary prison in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on September 29, 2021. (AngelDeJesus / AP Photo)

Lady Zniga, former chairman of the Ecuadorian National Rehabilitation Council, said:

Zúñiga, who was also the State’s Minister of Justice in 2016, said he regrets not taking steps to prevent the next slaughter following the deadly prison riots last February.

Earlier, officials said the violence arose from a conflict between “Los Lobos” and “Los Coneros” prison gangs.

Former director of Ecuador’s military intelligence, Colonel Mario Pasminho, said the bloody battle showed that “cross-border organized crime had permeated the structure” of Ecuadorian prisons, Mexico’s Sina Loa and Harrisco. He added that the new generation cartel is active through local gangs.

“They want to scare,” he told The Associated Press Wednesday, urging the government to temporarily transfer control of the prison to state police. “The more radical and violent the way they kill,” he added, they achieve more of their goals of control.

Luis Hernandez, a political and military affairs analyst who was an Ecuadorian general, said imprisoned gang members extended control from prison to the streets, and aspects of debt, delivery and other illegal drug trafficking. Said to manage.

Ecuador is an important transit point for drug trafficking organizations due to its excellent road infrastructure, three international seaports and two international airports, Hernandez said.

Ecuadorian prison violence
An ambulance left the prison on September 29, 2021 after a prison riot in Guayaquil, Ecuador. (Angel DeJesus / AP Photo)

The Ecuadorian president said care points had been set up for relatives of prisoners who received dietary and psychological support. He added that programs to deal with national prisons would be accelerated, starting with investment in infrastructure and technology for littoral prisons.

Faust Kobo, a former director of the Ecuadorian prison bureau, said authorities in the prison face “a threat of power equal to or greater than the state itself.” He said security forces had to enter unarmed prisons with shields, but they met prisoners with high-caliber weapons.

In July, the president proclaimed another emergency in Ecuador’s prison system after several violent episodes in which more than 100 prisoners were killed. These deaths occurred in various prisons rather than in a single facility like the massacre on Tuesday.

Previously, the bloodiest day occurred in February, killing 79 prisoners in riots at three prisons in the country at the same time. In July, another 22 prisoners died in a littoral prison, and in September, a prison center was attacked by a drone, leaving no deaths.

Gabriella Molina

Associated Press