Death toll from bloody clashes between rival gangs in Guayaquil prison complex reaches 116, with dozens more wounded, says the country’s President President Guillermo Lasso.
The death toll from bloody clashes between rival gangs in an Ecuador prison has reached 116, with nearly 80 more wounded, President Guillermo Lasso said, as soldiers surrounded the facility – one of the country’s many overburdened and understaffed jails.
The country’s prisons bureau said on Wednesday in a tweet that “as of the moment more than 100 dead and 52 injured have been confirmed” in Tuesday’s clash at the Guayaquil prison complex.
Inmates went to war armed with guns and grenades on Tuesday at the Guayaquil prison complex: a clash between prisoners believed to be linked to Mexican drug gangs – mainly the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels.
President Lasso announced the new toll at a late Wednesday press conference, describing the prison slaughter as an “unfortunate event.”
Soldiers and a tank guarded the complex on Wednesday as police on horseback patrolling the perimeter were confronted by worried family members of the men locked up inside.
“We want information because we don’t know anything about our families, our sons,” said one woman, who would not give her name. “I have my son there.”
More than six inmates beheaded
At least six were beheaded, the national prosecutor’s office said earlier in the day, adding that two police officers were wounded in the operation to retake control of the prison.
Officers were attacked by inmates with guns.
Earlier in the day, Lasso announced on Twitter that he was declaring a “state of exception,” which will allow him to suspend rights and use public force to restore calm.
Lasso said that he would head a security committee in Guayaquil to control the emergency, but also guaranteed protection of “human rights for all those involved.”
Colonel Mario Pazmino, the former director of Ecuador’s military intelligence, said the bloody fighting shows that “transnational organized crime has permeated the structure” of Ecuador’s prison system, adding that Mexico’s Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels operated through local gangs.
“They want to sow fear,” he told The Associated Press on Wednesday after officials had confirmed 10 decapitations.
Chain of riots
In July, Lasso decreed a state of emergency in Ecuador’s prison system following several violent episodes that resulted in more than 100 inmates being killed.
Previously, the bloodiest day occurred in February, when 79 prisoners died in a simultaneous riot in three prisons in the country.
In July, 22 more prisoners lost their lives in the Litoral penitentiary, while in September a penitentiary center was attacked by drones leaving no fatalities.