At least 68 dead inmates and 25 wounded left a new prison massacre in the Guayas 1 prison, in Guayaquil (Ecuador), on Friday night and early Saturday morning, according to the official figure provided by the Ecuadorian government authorities.
So far this year, 324 inmates have been murdered in the Ecuador prisons, the majority during four violent massacres in the Guayaquil penitentiary, the largest in the country, which has 12 pavilions, each containing between 700 and 800 detainees. The last event was registered on September 30, when 118 people deprived of liberty died.
In the entire prison there are about 300 prisoners of Colombian nationality. It has not yet been confirmed whether any of the nationals is among the victims on Friday. EL TIEMPO consulted with the Chancellery on Colombia’s position on this issue, but, as of press time, there was no official statement.
Apparently, the recognition of the deceased will take weeks, as several of the bodies were cremated and beheaded. And it is that the massacre was total. The forces of order could not prevent the planned murder of the inmates of pavilion 2 of the prison, despite the fact that there were already alerts of what would happen and that the inmates cried out for help through several videos that were circulated on social networks or were sent communicators.
(Also read: 75% of the inmates in jail of the Ecuador massacre did not have a sentence).
“Several journalists were contacted by people deprived of their liberty who were begging for help from Pavilion 2 of the Litoral Penitentiary. The shooting began at 7:00 pm, ”said journalist Karol Noroña, from the GK portal.
The relatives of the inmates denounced, through social networks, that on Friday night another confrontation had started and published the photos and chats they received from inside the jail. The prisoners themselves narrated the terror they lived, in the videos they cried out for help.
According to Police General Tannya Varela, these events, which have already established the massacre as a modus operandi, are due to the struggle for power and control of the prisons maintained by drug trafficking gangs and that in recent months have been transferred to the streets of the country, mainly to the city of Guayaquil, where hitman actions are registered daily. In addition, he warns that a few days ago Álex Salazar, leader of the ‘Tiguerones’ gang, was released by court order, and this unleashed violence in the prison.
(Also read: Ecuador deploys 3,600 soldiers and police to control prisons).
According to an analysis carried out by the former director of security of the Army Mario Pazmiño, 37.5 percent of Colombia’s coca production passes through Ecuador and, therefore, is a geographic target of the Mexican cartels Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva Generación.
“These cartels for two decades have outsourced their presence through the local gangs ‘Los Choneros’, ‘Tigretones’, ‘Chonekillers’, ‘Lobos’ and ‘Lagartos’, which maintain control of the routes, the collection centers and international drug distribution platforms ”, which has raised a wave of violence that has spread to the prisons, explains Pazmiño.
Luis Alberto Villamarín, a strategic affairs analyst, explains to EL TIEMPO that the Pacific coast, where problems are occurring in Ecuador’s prisons, has been highly prone to crime since the 1980s. Colombian mafias and from the region they found a good crossing point in that area. Then, already inside the prisons, the incapacity of the Ecuadorian Government has been unleashed, which is not current, but is accumulated ”.
To subdue the inmates of the pavilion, the inmates of pavilions 7, 8 and 9 disconnected the electricity, burned mattresses to cause them asphyxiation and fired shots, according to the governor’s report. Several deceased belong to the “transition” ward, detained for minor crimes or who are close to recovering their freedom.
(Also read: The reasons that led to the state of exception in Ecuador).
At 2 a.m. on Saturday, the police entered the penitentiary and found only decapitated, dismembered and cremated bodies.
The absence of the state
“In the prison massacre, the inability of the State to control the situation is mixed with the penetration of drug traffickers in the police, the Armed Forces and also in government areas,” says social leader Napoleón Saltos. “There is a struggle between international and local mafias, but there is also a mixture of gangs in the popular neighborhoods, especially in Guayaquil. We are facing a case of social upheaval, we must react to the laziness of an incapable government, ”he said.
Among the causes of “Prison crisis” pointed out by the analysts, is the absence of the State in the national prison system, and institutions responsible for the “social rehabilitation” of inmates, and their release by decision of judges in disputed rulings, in addition to the complicity of the security guard personnel. prison system co-opted by corruption, at the discretion of investigative journalist Leonardo Parrini.
(Also read: Investigating the alleged suicide of four inmates in Guayaquil prison).
“Today the jail is the scene of the process of changing the leaders of the criminal gangs. The objective is to control the drug business, warehousing sites and international drug trafficking that use the Ecuadorian territorial space to reach their final destination in American and European markets, ”he says.
The president of the Republic, Guillermo Lasso, together with other officials responsible for security, mainly in Guayaquil, blamed the limitations of state action on a ruling of the Constitutional Court that did not authorize the entry of the military to the country’s prisons, during the state of emergency in force in Ecuador. “We need the appropriate constitutional tools to protect the population, restore order in the prisons and fight the mafias that profit from chaos,” he said.
In response, the Constitutional Court pointed out that the president tries to evade his responsibilities: “The severe crisis that affects the prison system requires different and structural actions, different from those that can be adopted in a state of exception,” he said in “a call to the Executive Function to implement concrete and adequate actions ”.
ANA LUCIA ROMÁN
For the time
Four keys to the massacre
1. Overpopulation of 60%
The Guayas 1 prison, the most important in Guayaquil with 8,500 inmates and an overcrowding of 60 percent, was the scene, between Friday and Saturday, of a massacre. This jail is divided into twelve pavilions, in which members of at least seven criminal organizations with ties to international drug trafficking cartels are detained separately, such as the Mexicans from Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva Generación. The 65 Ecuadorian prisons have a capacity of 30,000 people, but are occupied by 39,000, an overcrowding of 30 percent.
2. Objective: total massacre
This week the shooting incidents continued, one inmate died, and another prisoner and a prison guard were injured in two cases. On Friday, the police prevented the entry of five pistols, two rifles and 27 packages of ammunition and explosives through a fence that overlooks a street.
The leader of a criminal group was released recently, which was used by rival groups from three blocks to attack Pavilion 2 with weapons and explosives, to which they entered by breaking through a series of walls.
3. Economic crisis in prisons
The prison crisis had been incubating “several years”, but only now is “this state absence” noticeable due to the “decrease in the budget for care” of inmates, says Fernando Carrión, security expert at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences ( Flacso). At the same time, security within prisons passed from the police to the SNAI, an autonomous body that is in charge of surveillance with civilians trained as prison guides. “The administration of the system is precarious,” he remarks. Former SNAI director Fausto Cobo launched the alert a month ago: the system has just 1,500 guards and about 4,500 are needed to provide security.
4. Illegal economy
The jail “is a reflection of what happens in society” and in the streets, where drug trafficking takes hold.
The homicide rate in Ecuador went from 7.8 percent per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020 to 10.6 percent between January and October 2021. Some seven gangs operate in the Guayas 1 penitentiary.
The most violent riots
23 of February
At least 80 inmates die, about twenty of them beheaded, during the simultaneous riots in the Guayas, Azuay and Cotopaxi prisons, apparently due to the fight between gangs to take control of these penitentiaries.
28th of April
Five inmates killed and a dozen injured in the riot at the No. 1 prison in Guayaquil.
22 inmates killed and dozens of prisoners injured, as well as several police officers, in two riots in prisons in Ecuador. The critical situation led the president, Guillermo Lasso, to decree a state of emergency in the prisons.
119 inmates die and 80 are injured in the riot at the Number 1 Center for the Deprivation of Liberty in Guayaquil during the confrontation between gangs to take control of the prison, also known as the Litoral Penitentiary.
Four prisoners die, it is being investigated if by “suicide”, in prison Number 1, in Guayaquil.
The death of 7 inmates is investigated, initially as an alleged “suicide”, in the intimate visitation area of the Number 1 prison in Guayaquil.
Three prisoners die in clashes between gangs, in which several shots were fired, in Guayas Number 1 prison, in Guayaquil.