Ecuador: Guayaquil prison “under control” by soldiers and police, after deadly riot

The situation would be ” under control “. According to the director of the penitentiary services of Ecuador Fausto Cobo, soldiers and police officers finally managed to take back in hand, Tuesday, November 16, the prison of Guayaquil, in the south-west of the country, where violent clashes between inmates made 68 died on November 12 and 13.

“We carry out interventions inside the detainees’ pavilions”Mr. Cobo told reporters. “The famous death row is under control” soldiers and police, he said, referring to the sector that connects all the pavilions of this part of the prison. “We also clean all the watchtowers that they [les prisonniers] occupy and use to monitor their buildings ”, he explained, without mentioning any violent incidents during the intervention. According to the authorities, three prisoners held hostage by other detainees were released unharmed.

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The army and the police – a total of nearly a thousand men – entered the perimeter of the prison on Monday, without however intervening in the pavilions where the prisoners reside. The vast prison complex of Guayaquil was the scene, Friday and Saturday, of new clashes between rival gangs which left 68 dead and 25 injured.

60% overpopulation

With bladed weapons, firearms and explosives, prisoners attacked, after having sabotaged the electricity, the occupants of another unit of the prison, which houses 8,500 inmates with an overcrowding of 60 %. The authorities denounced the “Savagery” and the ” barbarity “ assailants, whom videos posted on social networks showed beating themselves up with knives and sticks on bodies piled up and charred in a courtyard. A “Struggle for leadership”, after the recent release from prison of a gang leader, which would have led to this new violence, according to the police.

Divided into twelve districts, where members of at least seven criminal organizations, often rivals, having links in particular with the Mexican cartels of Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva Generacion, are held separately, the prison complex was already the scene at the end of September of the most great massacre in Ecuador’s prison history and one of the worst in Latin America. During brawls between rival gangs, 119 people were killed there, some detainees were dismembered, beheaded, or burned. Since the beginning of the year, 320 have died in various episodes of violence in the sixty-five prisons of the country.

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These events are the last ups and downs of a prison crisis that has lasted for years and has only worsened in recent months, despite multiple announcements from the authorities. Located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s main producers of cocaine, and used as a transit zone for shipping to the United States and Europe, Ecuador is facing an increase in drug trafficking-related crime. .

“Process of pacification in prisons”

Conservative President Guillermo Lasso decreed, on October 18, a “State of exception” across the country to fight this crime, as well as another “State of exception” in prisons, planning to send military reinforcements there, a decision opposed by the Constitutional Court.

Monday judging the country “Seriously threatened from the outside by the drug trafficking mafias”, and that he was facing “One of the biggest crises of recent decades”, Mr. Lasso undertook in particular to “Mobilize all the necessary means”. The heads of the armed forces and prisons of Ecuador announced their resignation on Monday.

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Faced with the urgency of the situation, the intervention of the army in prisons, alongside the police, finally seemed to be little debate Tuesday in the country. President Lasso also announced a “Pacification process in prisons”, with the mediation of civil society, while promising to target in particular the heads of drug traffickers.

The World with AFP

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Ecuador: Guayaquil prison “under control” by soldiers and police, after deadly riot