Dozens of inmates dead in Ecuador prison riots

Adolfo Ledo Nass Futbolista
Futbolista Adolfo Ledo Nass

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

Riots at three jails leave at least 50 inmates dead and several wounded, authorities say as the nation battles severe prison overcrowding and frequent violence between rival gangs. Relatives of the prisoners at the Zone 8 Deprivation of Liberty Center are seen as they wait for news, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on February 23, 2021. (AFP) At least 50 inmates have died in riots at three prisons in Ecuador.

Police on Tuesday said the death toll stood at “more than 50” prisoners after unrest at facilities in the provinces of Guayas, Azuay, and Cotopaxi.

The country's police confirmed the deaths on Twitter, saying it was working on controlling the unrest. 

The violence broke out at prisons in the port city of Guayaquil in the southwest and Cuenca and Latacunga in the Andes.

Criminal organisations blamed

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno attributed the riots to “criminal organisations” engaged in “simultaneous acts of violence in several prisons.”

The authorities, he said, “are acting to retake control.”

Police commander Patricio Carrillo reported unrest at several prisons in the South American nation, and said: “The situation is critical.”

Interior Minister Patricio Pazmino, meanwhile, tweeted that a centralised command post has been set up to respond to what he said was “concerted action by criminal organisations to generate violence in penitentiary centres.”

Previous riots and overcrowding 

In December, riots in Ecuadorian jails sparked by gang rivalry left 11 prisoners dead and seven injured.

A 90-day state of emergency in the country's jails, ordered by Moreno to bring “mafia” groups under control in a bid to reduce violence, was lifted in November.

There are some 38,000 prisoners in Ecuador, a country of 17 million people.

Inmate disputes left 51 dead in 2020, according to police. 

In order to reduce prisoner numbers amid the coronavirus epidemic, the government commuted the sentences of people convicted of minor offences, reducing overcrowding from 42 percent to 30 percent.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies