Wednesday, February 21

A new prison crisis causes at least 44 deaths in Ecuador

Death walks through Ecuadorian prisons. An new riot has caused 44 deaths in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, 177 kilometers from Quito. It is a penitentiary unit with an overcrowding rate of almost 80%. According to the prosecutor’s office, most of the prisoners died as a result of a knife blow or other knife in the middle of another confrontation between factions of criminals. It has been reported that 13 people have been injured. Most of them are in a serious situation. The security forces recaptured 112 inmates who had left the prison, while 108 are fugitives.

The Minister of the Interior, Patricio Carrillo, said that the clashes were a consequence of the arrival at the prison of a prisoner who was rejected by some of the inmates. “We will not back down from the mafias. What was experienced in Santo Domingo was cruelty by a criminal gang that perpetuated the same events a month ago in (the prison of) Azuay. It is necessary to review the mechanisms for accumulating penalties and denying benefits to those involved, and subjecting them to a more demanding disciplinary regimen, “he said.”

Our commitment to restore order in the prisons is firm,” said President Guillermo Lasso from Israel. “My deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those who died in the riot in the Sto prison. Sunday. This is an unfortunate result of gang violence“. His message surprised no one: it resembled those previously circulated on the president’s Twitter account after similar incidents. In February 2021, when Lasso was running for president, the first crisis in the prison system took place: 78 people lost their lives in three prisons.The problems have not abated in the penitentiary system since Lasso arrived at the Carondelet Palace.Human rights organizations estimate that more than 300 Ecuadorians died in different incidents.

long standing problem

One of Lasso’s campaign promises had been to take action on the delicate issue of the situation in the prisons, where the dispute over control of certain urban territories between the bands R7 and Los Lobos. According to different media outlets, the genesis of this new massacre is related to a quarrel between Marcelo Anchundia, of the R7, and Alexander Quezada, alias Ariel, of Los Lobos, who, despite being held in another prison since 26 last April, he had given the order to assassinate his rival. The newspaper Trade reported that the drug gangs in the prison were beheaded by the authorities and their leaders distributed in other prisons.

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The wave of riots is accompanied by an increase in violence in the cities. The state of emergency has not prevented the lethal events from increasing. During the first quarter 950 people died and in 2021 murders pierced the 2500 barrier, which represented an increase of 80% in relation to the previous year. “How did we descend into this hell?, after Ecuador had managed to dodge, for decades, the brutal violence of the Colombian and Peruvian mafias, the largest cocaine producers in the world? The names of those who dealt with drug trafficking should be exposed so that they do not dare to ever try to return to power,” said Thalía Flores y Flores, a columnist for the newspaper First fruits.

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“With this government, the story of handing over Ecuadorian territory to drug traffickers has ended,” Lasso had said last October when announcing the installation of a new radar to detect illegal planes. “We will have 100% of Ecuadorian territory under control.” The newspaper The Universe assured however, that the “drug planes continue to land and take off.” The specialists remind that all the facts –the problems in the penitentiary units, the increase in violence, drug and arms trafficking- are interconnected. “The arms suppliers must be people with strong international contacts and they must be in prison connection and the 17 or 18 local organizations that, according to the Minister of the Interior, Patricio Carrillo, are the armed arms of the drug traffickers, and take care of the business routes,” added Flores y Flores.

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