At least 43 prisoners were killed and 13 others wounded in a riot in a prison in central Ecuador. The violence was unleashed by the attack of a gang against a rival organization, apparently for control of drug trafficking.
The incident led to an escape attempt. The authorities reported that 112 inmates were recaptured around the prison.
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“There are 43 deceased inmates” due to the riot at the Bellavista prison in Santo Domingo los Tsáchilas, in Colorados, about 80 kilometers from Quito, the Prosecutor’s Office reported on Twitter.
In Ecuadorian prisons 350 inmates have died violently since February 2021 in the midst of violence that the government attributes to the confrontation of criminal groups linked to drug trafficking.
President Guillermo Lasso said that the authorities regained control of the prison
From Israel, where he is on tour, President Guillermo Lasso announced that control of the prison had been regained “thanks to the joint work” of the Police and the Armed Forces of Ecuador. “Our commitment is and always will be the safety of Ecuadorians,” he said.
“This is an unfortunate result of gang violence,” he said on his Twitter account. The president sent his “heartfelt condolences to the families” of the deceased.
The reason behind the new riot that caused 43 deaths
According to the Minister of the Interior, Patricio Carrillo, the fight was caused by the gang The Wolves whose members attacked a rival organization calling itself “R7″. Most of the victims were executed with white weapons, apparently homemade.
Wounded with their faces beaten were transferred in vans and ambulances to receive medical attention, while relatives of the prisoners crowded around the penitentiary center to receive information.
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The reasons for the prison crisis facing Ecuador
Despite multiple measures -which include the allocation of a budget, the transfer of the most dangerous inmates to a single center and the creation of a pacification commission- Lasso’s government has not been able to stop the prison massacres, considered among the worst in Latin America.
Along with the brutal massacres in the prisons, Ecuador faces an increase in violence in the streets and drug trafficking, which the government tries to control through a state of emergency in the provinces of Guayas, Manabí and Esmeraldas, the most affected by the drug traffic.
So far this year, the country has seized some 82 tons of drugs and in 2021 it seized a record 210 tons.
In the first four months of the year, in the country 1,255 violent deaths were reported -among them beheaded and mutilated-half of what was registered during all of 2021. A month before this new riot in the Bellavista prison, a confrontation between inmates at the El Turi penitentiary center, in the Andean city of Cuenca, in the south of the country, caused 20 deaths , some mutilated.