Quito, Ecuador (WNN) – At least 116 people have been killed and 80 wounded in a fighting between gangs at a prison in what officials are calling the deadliest penitentiary massacre in Ecuadorian history. Officials said on Wednesday that at least five people were reported to have been beheaded.
President Guillermo Lasso ordered a state of emergency in Ecuador’s prison system, allowing the government to deploy police and soldiers for penitence, among other powers. Authorities blamed international drug cartel-linked gangs fighting for control of the lockup for the bloodshed in the Littoral Peninsula in the coastal city of Guayaquil on Tuesday.
Clearly impressed, Lasso told a news conference that what was happening in Guayaquil prison was “bad and sad” and that he could not guarantee that the authorities had regained control of the lockup.
“It is regrettable that prisons are being turned into areas for power disputes by criminal gangs,” he said, adding that he is “absolutely determined” to regain control of the littoral prison and prevent violence from spreading to other peninsulas. Will work with
Images going viral on social media show dozens of bodies and battlefield-like scenes in Pavilions 9 and 10 of the prison. Officials said the fighting was with firearms, knives and bombs. Earlier, regional police commander Fausto Buenano said bodies were being found in the prison’s pipelines.
Outside the prison morgue, inmates’ relatives wept, some describing to journalists the brutality with which their loved ones were killed, beheaded and beheaded.
“In the history of the country, there has never been an incident like this or close to it,” said Lady Zuniga, former president of Ecuador’s National Rehabilitation Council.
Zuniga, who was also the country’s minister of justice in 2016, said she regretted that steps had not been taken to prevent another massacre following the deadly prison riots last February.
Earlier, officials said the violence was sparked by a dispute between the “Los Lobos” and “Los Choneros” prison gangs.
Col Mario Pazmino, the former director of Ecuador’s military intelligence, said the bloody fighting showed that “international organized crime has penetrated the structure” of Ecuadorian prisons, adding that Mexico’s Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation Cartels are part of local gangs. work through.
“They want to sow fear,” he told the Associated Press on Wednesday, urging the government to temporarily hand over control of prisons to the National Police. “The more radical and violent they kill,” the more they achieve their goal of control, he said.
The Ecuadorian president said that care centers had been set up for the prisoners’ relatives with food and psychological support. He said a $24 million program to address the nation’s prisons would be accelerated, beginning with investments in infrastructure and technology at Littoral Prison.
Fausto Cobo, the former director of Ecuador’s Prison Bureau, said authorities within the penitentiary face a “threat with power equal to or greater than that of the state”. He said that while the security forces should enter prisons with shields and unarmed, they are met with inmates with high caliber weapons.
In July, the president ordered another state of emergency in Ecuador’s prison system after several violent incidents that resulted in the deaths of more than 100 prisoners. Those deaths happened in different prisons and not in a single facility like Tuesday’s massacre.
Earlier, the bloodiest day was in February, when 79 prisoners were killed in simultaneous riots in three jails of the country. In July, 22 more prisoners lost their lives in the Littoral Peninsula, while in September a peninsula center was attacked by drones, with no deaths.