Ecuador: Thirteen inmates killed in prison clashes
This photo provided by Ecuadorian police shows an operation in Bellavista prison, in Santo Domingo de los Colorados, Ecuador on May 11, 2022. Illustrative image.
Text by: RFI Follow
Thirteen detainees and two others were injured on Monday July 18 during clashes in a prison in Ecuador, an episode described as "
" by the authorities and recurrent in this South American country.
The SNAI, the public agency in charge of prisons, says it has regained control of Bellavista prison in the province of Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, about 80 km west of Quito.
Con el apoyo de @PoliciaEcuador @FFAAECUADOR returned to control of #CPLSantoDomingo Nº 1. Sadly, personal del Centro reported al momento 13 PPL fallecidos y 2 heridos.
— SNAI Ecuador (@SNAI_Ec) July 18, 2022
The SNAI adds that it has "
taken back control
" of this prison, "
with the support of the police and the army
The prosecutor's office indicated in turn that it "
is proceeding to the removal of the corpses
" and is investigating in this prison.
Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said at a press conference that "
of the victims were of Venezuelan nationality.
Some journalists and media have argued that the confrontation between prisoners resulted in decapitated and dismembered bodies, as has happened in
other massacres inside various Ecuadorian prisons since 2021
, with nearly 400 dead.
Patricio Carrillo said that "
this act of barbarism, in fact very primitive, demonstrates the psychological profile of many people who are there or who have at least been involved in this type of incident
He added that thirteen bodies had been taken away, that a "
" of the penitentiary center was in progress and that it was "
" that other corpses would be discovered.
It is already in this establishment that 44 prisoners had perished in May during clashes between rival gangs.
During this revolt, 220 prisoners escaped.
Almost all have been taken over.
Clashes between narcos
Clashes, often extremely violent, are recurrent in Ecuadorian prisons.
According to the government, rival gangs of drug
, infiltrated or controlled by Mexican cartels, are waging an all-out war for control of overcrowded prisons, a war that authorities have so far been powerless to stem.
In 2021, Ecuador seized a record 210 tons of drugs, mostly cocaine.
For 2022, seizures to date have reached around 70 tonnes.
Bordered by Colombia and
, the world's largest cocaine producers, Ecuador serves as a port of departure for illicit shipments, primarily to the United States and Europe.
Ecuadorian prisons, with a capacity of some 30,000 people, are currently overcrowded by nearly 9% compared to 30% two years ago.
Ecuador is facing a wave of violence linked to drug trafficking that leaves bloody images with decapitated bodies hanging from bridges in the style of Mexican cartels.
Last year, the nation of 17.7 million people recorded a rate of 14 murders per 100,000 people, nearly double that of 2020.
Ecuador remained for many years relatively safe from the violence of its neighbors Colombia and Peru, the world's two largest producers of cocaine.
The latest report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (
), published in June, indicates that Ecuador seized 6.5% of the cocaine seized in the world in 2020, ranking behind Colombia (41%, with nearly 600 tons) and the United States (11%).
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