At least 43 inmates died on Monday in Ecuador’s latest grisly prison riot, the public prosecutor said, as another 100 prisoners managed to escape. Authorities said a fight broke out between the rival Los Lobos and R7 gangs inside the Bellavista prison in Santo Domingo de los Colorados, in the center of Ecuador some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Quito.
“For now there are 43 inmates dead,” said the public prosecutor’s office on Twitter, adding that the situation was “developing.” During the riot, dozens of inmates tried to escape. Police chief Fausto Salinas told reporters that 108 were missing after another 112 escaped prisoners were recaptured. The South American country’s prison authority SNAI said it has activated “security protocols” to contain the “disturbances to order.” Interior minister Patricio Carrillo initially told reporters that two inmates had been killed before later increasing that figure to 41 in a press conference.
However, he also said “13 people have been taken to hospital, several with serious injuries, and it is possible the number (of dead) will rise.” The public prosecutor’s office then tweeted the latest death toll. Carrillo had initially claimed authorities were in control of the situation and that all escaped prisoners had been recaptured. Inmates with facial injuries were taken by truck and ambulance to medical facilities while family members of those incarcerated gathered at the prison looking for information, AFP reporters at the scene said. Salinas said “200 police, 200 soldiers and additional reinforcements are on their way.”
Prior to this one, around 350 inmates had been killed in five separate prison riots since February 2021. Just last month, at least 20 inmates died inside the El Turi prison in Cuenca, southern Ecuador. Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso insists the problem inside the facilities mirrors that outside, where drug gangs are vying for control of trafficking routes. Those rivalries among inmates sometimes explode into violence, with some prisoners hacked to death or beheaded with machetes. “The majority of victims, if not almost 100 percent, were killed with knives and not guns,” said Carrillo.—AFP