Quito, Ecuador—Ecuador’s president has declared a state of emergency in the prison system after a fight between gang members in a coastal lockup that killed at least 118 people and injured 79, officials say That was the worst prison bloodshed ever in the country.
At least five of the dead have been beheaded, officials said.
Dozens of police and military vehicles, as well as ambulances, entered the prison complex on Thursday. The helicopter took off over the area.
National Police Commander Colonel Tanya Varela said there could be more bodies or seriously injured people in the prison.
Hundreds gathered outside the crime laboratory in Guayaquil in the hope that they would collect the bodies of relatives killed in prison. The prosecutors’ office said on Twitter that police were working to identify the bodies.
One police officer, Henry Corral, asked family members to help expedite the identification of bodies by letting officers know of any tattoos, scars, or other distinguishing features of prisoners who were believed to be was murdered. Some bodies were mutilated or burnt, making identification difficult.
President Guillermo Lasso on Wednesday decreed a state of emergency that would include government powers to deploy police and troops inside prisons. The order comes a day after bloodshed in the Littoral Peninsula in Guayaquil that authorities accused gangs linked to international drug cartels fighting for control of the facility.
“It is regrettable that prisons are being turned into areas for power disputes by criminal gangs,” Lasso said, adding that he is “full-fledged” to gain control of the littoral prison and prevent violence from spreading to other peninsulas. Will work with perseverance”.
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’s morgue, relatives of prisoners cried, some describing to journalists the brutality with which their loved ones were 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.
Political and military affairs analyst Luis Hernández, a general in the Ecuadorian military, said imprisoned gang members extend their control from prisons to streets, managing debts, deliveries and other aspects of the illegal drug trade.
Hernandez said Ecuador is a major transit point for drug trafficking organizations due to its good road infrastructure, three international sea ports and two international airports.
The Ecuadorian president said that care centers had been set up for the prisoners’ relatives with food and psychological support. He said the program to address the nation’s prisons would be intensified, starting with investment in infrastructure and technology in the 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 security forces should enter prisons with shields and unarmed, they meet prisoners with weapons of high caliber.
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.
by Gabriella Molina
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times