Crime & Justice

Ecuador militarizes Guayaquil prison after prisoner massacre

Guayaquil, Ecuador, Sep 30 (EFE).- More than 1,000 policemen and soldiers led a Thursday operation in Guayaquil’s prison No. 1 to seize weapons from inmates and avoid tragedies such as the event that left at least 118 dead and 79 injured Tuesday.

More than 900 police officers from different units participated in the search and control operation, according to Police Gen. Comdr. Tannya Varela.

“Our presence here is to offer legal support, which is the most important thing, given these circumstances and these situations we are going through,” Varela said before hundreds of agents near the prison.

Forces launched an operation in the early morning and another at about noon. But they will not be the only ones, she said.

“Military and police operations in the last hours are constant. At dawn they entered several pavilions, and at noon they entered others,” Guayas Government Spokesman Jefferson Merchan told EFE.

According to the latest police report, the forces seized three pistols, 435 bullets, 25 knives, three explosive devices and several doses of drugs.

The Intervention and Rescue Group, Special Operations Group, Anti-Narcotics Mobile Special Group, Order Maintenance Unit, and Criminalistics tactical units took part in the operation while a helicopter overflew the area.

Preventive, investigative and intelligence unit agents also participated, according to police.

The interventions have the objective of searching the entire center to seize weapons from inmates who led the Tuesday brawl, the third this year with dozens of victims, although skirmishes occur weekly.

The action of the police and military forces occurs under the exception decree promulgated by President Guillermo Lasso to deal with the crisis, and will last two months on a national scale, that is, in all the centers of the penitentiary system.

Tuesday’s incident has once again highlighted the severe crisis that has afflicted the Ecuadorian prison system for three years.

So far in 2021 alone, more than 230 prisoners have died in this type of event, with the epicenter in the prison in Guayaquil, a city where most of the country’s criminal activity occurs and where more than 430 people had been murdered in the streets until August.

The incessant clashes in prisons reflect the power struggle between gangs such as “Los Choneros” and “Los Lobos,” for crime and drug trafficking control, authorities said. EFE


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