At least one person was killed and four injured in a nighttime riot at a prison in the port city of Guayaquil, in Ecuador, in the same facility from which one of the most feared gang leaders in the country escaped in January, the Government said this Holy Thursday, March 28, 2024.

The Deputy Minister of Security, Lyonel Calderón, said that the number of victims was provisional pending a “complete review of the entire penitentiary center,” located in a city that has become a dangerous cocaine export center from neighboring countries.
“The situation is completely under control,” he told the Teleamazonas radio station.

In January, the Guayaquil regional prison came into the spotlight after Adolfo ‘Fito’ Macías, leader of one of the most powerful gangs in the country, escaped from prison. He’s still loose.

After the escape, President Daniel Noboa imposed a state of emergency -which has been extended until April- and declared war on the gangs that have sunk their claws into the country.

The drug traffickers retaliated with a wave of violence that caused dozens of kidnappings and left around 20 dead.

The Government has deployed soldiers to regain control of the country’s prisons, which had become the nerve center (and battleground) for gangs linked to the Mexican and Colombian cartels.

Since 2021, more than 460 inmates have died in brutal gang wars behind bars.

Wednesday’s riot was the first since Noboa took office in November. AFP journalists heard gunshots and saw fires spread inside the prison, one of four that make up a vast prison complex in Guayaquil.

Ecuador, once considered a bastion of peace in Latin America, has been plunged into a crisis by the rapid expansion of transnational cartels that use its ports to send drugs to the United States and Europe.

Calderon said a recent spike in violence was part of an effort to “destabilize” the country ahead of an April 21 referendum on whether to take tougher measures on crime.

The measures include the ability to deploy the military to support the Police outside of a state of emergency, allow the extradition of Ecuadorians involved in organized crime and increase sentences for terrorism and drug trafficking.


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