Quito, Ecuador (Associated Press)-At least 116 people were killed and 80 were injured in fighting between gangs in the prison. Officials described it as the most brutal prison massacre in Ecuadorian history. Officials claimed that at most five people were reportedly killed.
The President Guillermo Lasso declared an emergency in Ecuador’s prison system. This allowed the government to send soldiers, police, and other power to the prison. The bloodshed at the Guayaquil prison’s coastal prison was Tuesday blamed on groups associated with international drug cartels.
At a press conference, Lasso stated that the events at Guayaquil prison were “bad and sad” and that he couldn’t guarantee that the prison would be retaken by the authorities.
He stated, “It is sad that prisons are being transformed into territories of power disputes and criminal gangs,” adding that he would work with “absolute resolve” to regain Binhai Prison’s control and stop violence spreading to other prisons.
Images posted on social media show that there is a lot of dead bodies in prison halls 9, and 10. The scenes are like battlefields. Officials stated that fighting was done with guns, knives, and bombs. Earlier, regional police commander Fausto Buenaño had stated that the body was found in a prison tunnel.
Relatives of prisoners were crying outside the prison mortuary, while others described the cruel acts of their loved one’s being murdered, beheaded, and mutilated.
Ledy Zúñiga, former chairman of Ecuador’s National Rehabilitation Council, said: “In the history of the country, there has not been an incident similar to or close to this.”
Zuniga, who also serves as the country’s attorney general, said she regretted not taking steps to prevent another massacre following the fatal riot in the prison last February.
Officials had earlier stated that violence was the result of a dispute between the “Los Lobos” and “Los Choneros” prison gangs.
Colonel Mario Pazminho, the former head of the Ecuadorian Military Intelligence Agency, stated that the bloody battle showed that “transnational organized crime has penetrated the structure of Ecuador’s prisons”, adding that Mexico’s Sinaloa and Jalisco’s new generation Cartels operate through local gangs.
He told the Associated Press that they wanted to spread fear and asked the government to temporarily give control to the national police.
Ecuador’s President stated that care points were set up to provide food and support for relatives of prisoners. He added that starting from investing in the infrastructure and technology of Litoral Prison, a US$24 million project will be accelerated to solve the country’s prison problems.