Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Carnage in Ecuador
Over 70 dead in gang war behind bars
At the same time, riots break out in several prisons in Ecuador. The cause is apparently an internal gang conflict. The power struggle is fought with pistols, machetes and knives. The Ecuadorian Interior Ministry speaks of organized violence.
Bloody power struggle behind bars: Over 70 people were killed in a series of violent clashes in several prisons in Ecuador. At least 75 prisoners were killed in the fighting in the prisons in Guayaquil, Cuenca and Latacunga, said the government of the South American country.
The clash was apparently triggered by an internal power struggle within the Los Choneros gang after their top leader, José Luis Zambrano, aka “Rasquiña”, was killed in December. According to the prison administration, a correctional officer had last smuggled firearms into Guayaquil prison. The weapons were apparently intended to be used for attacks on members of rival groups within the gang.
Los Choneros is the most powerful criminal organization in Ecuador. The gang is involved in drug trafficking, racketeering, and contract killings, and is believed to work with Mexican and Colombian crime syndicates. Interior Minister Patricio Pazmiño spoke of a concerted action by criminal organizations. President Lenín Moreno announced the use of the military. “As a consequence of the violent clashes between criminal gangs in three prisons in the country, I instructed the armed forces to strictly control the outer areas of the prisons for weapons, ammunition and explosives,” wrote the head of state on Twitter.
Gangs control prisons
After the security forces brought the detention centers back under control, investigators ransacked the cells. Firearms, machetes, knives and cell phones were seized in Guayaquil, the public prosecutor said. “I just got out. You knocked on the doors and yelled,” a visitor to the Cuenca prison told El Universo. “You killed one – I saw that.”
In Latin America, violent clashes occur again and again in prisons. Many prisons are controlled by gangs. Often the security forces only make sure that the prisoners stay in the detention center. Within the walls, the prisoners are largely left to their own devices. Numerous imprisoned gang bosses control the business of their criminal organizations from prison.