Ecuador has experienced eight riots that have killed nearly 400 prisoners since February 2021.
Ten inmates have been killed in a riot at a prison in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, which authorities say was caused by the government’s decision to transfer three law-breaking bosses to a high-security facility.
Riots and prison killings are the latest crisis in the country’s prisons, with nearly 400 inmates killed in gang-related violence since last year, a prison official said.
The latest riots began on Friday at El Inca prison shortly after the government said it was moving inmates suspected of being responsible for earlier prison riots to a maximum-security prison.
One of the prisoners whose exodus sparked the violence, Los Lobos gang leader Jonathan Bermudez, was responsible for the previous massacre at El Inca, according to the president’s office.
The warden said that “members of this gang (Los Lobos) committed violent acts” for transferring Bermudez to another prison.
Police Chief Victor Herrera told reporters that the prison has been secured, and tight security has been put in place as medical professionals exhume the bodies of the victims. Herrera said the cause of death “appeared to be wet”.
Since February 2021, Ecuador has been executed in eight prisons that have killed almost 400 people; most of the victims were beheaded or burned.
The last rebel-led prison riot was on November 8 in Quito, when five inmates died.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said the country cannot be threatened by terrorist leaders.
“We told them that our hand will not tremble,” Lasso said on Twitter about the transfer of the rebel leaders on Friday, warning of “the same fate for those who continue to try to disrupt the peace of the Ecuadorian people”.
We warn that we will not be intimidated by drug mafias, now they will have to face the severity of the law. pic.twitter.com/eHBcrvjdPU
– Guillermo Lasso (@LassoGuillermo) November 18, 2022
Lasso also thanked the law enforcement agencies for restoring peace in prisons and dealing with what he described as “narco gang leaders”.
Earlier this month, Lasso’s government transferred around 2,400 prisoners, sparking riots in the streets by militants who opened fire and threw car bombs at gas and police vehicles.
Eight people, including five police officers, have been killed in the attacks in the city of Guayaquil.
Lasso responded to the incident by declaring a state of emergency and curfew in the districts of Guayas, Esmeraldas and Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas. He also sent troops to three regions, home to three of Ecuador’s 18 million people.
At first, Ecuador was a peaceful neighbor to the hypnotic cocaine industry in Colombia and Peru, Ecuador has become a conduit for drug trafficking to important drug distribution centers.
Officials blame the current wave of terrorism on gangs linked to Mexican military forces.