At least 68 inmates were killed at a prison in Ecuador’s coastal city of Guayaquil, as President Guillermo Lasso’s government grapples with growing violence, officials said Saturday.
The latest bloodshed began Friday evening at the notorious Litoral prison, where officials described a “complete massacre” in which imprisoned gang members broke down walls to enter their rivals’ pavilion and attacked them with knives.
“It’s a situation of extreme savagery,” said Pablo Arosemena, the governor of Guayas, where Guayaquil is located. “We feel deep sorrow for the loss of human life.”
Police stood near the body of a prisoner on the roof of the Litoral prison Saturday morning in Guayaquil, Ecuador, after a gang battle broke out Friday.
Photo: Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
About 300 inmates have been killed in prison riots in Ecuador so far in 2021, which security experts call the bloodiest year on record in the country’s penitentiary system. In September, 119 inmates were killed at the Litoral prison, where gangs involved in drug trafficking battle for control.
Notes on the News
Videos circulating on social media and on WhatsApp showed inmates stabbing rivals with large knives and bodies burning. Another video showed inmates pleading for the police to intervene, with explosions heard in the background and blood on the prison floor. The Wall Street Journal could not independently verify the videos.
Latin America’s notoriously overcrowded prisons are hotbeds for deadly riots and bloody fights between gangs. Gangs from Mexico, Colombia and Brazil often battle for control inside prisons, which law-enforcement officials say are used as a headquarters from which they orchestrate drug trafficking and other criminal activities on the outside.
President Lasso took office earlier this year and declared a state of emergency, sending soldiers into the streets as his government struggles with rising crime.