Through social network videos and text posts, criminal gangs operating in Ecuador prisons claim they have reached a “peace agreement” to avoid violence both in and out of prisons. The gangs involved in the agreement, the posts say, are Los Lobos, Los Tiguerones, Los Lagartos, Mafia 18 Tiburones, Los Duendes and the Latin Kings.
“There has been too much bloodshed, too much pain to our members and their families and we have decided to call a truce,” one statement said. Gang leaders say the agreement applies to prisons in Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca, Latacunga, Ambato, Machala, Riobamba, Loja, Ibarra and Tena as well as members “on the streets.”
Government officials are skeptical of the announcement and note that two prominent gangs, Los Choneros and the Chone Killers are not parties to the agreement. “Because of the violence in the prisons we have witnessed over the past three years, we will wait to see if there is any substance to this information,” said Gustavo Encalada, a spokesman at Litoral Prison in Guayaquil. “We have heard these things before and the violence continued.”
Almost 500 prison inmates have died in riots at five prisons since early 2020. Two weeks ago, the government transferred 1,500 inmates from Litoral to El Rodeo Prison in Manabí Province. The Interior Ministry, which is responsible for the country’s prisons, says that the transferred inmates were members of criminal drug gangs that were responsible for violence at Litoral and on the streets of Guayaquil.
In their posts, gang leaders say they do not want more “trouble” with the government and that their members are not responsible for the extortion of businesses that has been widely reported in recent weeks. “We are not a war with the government and want to be clear that we are not responsible for demanding security money from business establishments – this is done by petty thieves who do not represent our values.”
In another statement, the gangs said they are also not responsible for most of the hitman-style murders committed in Guayas, Manabí and Esmeraldas Provinces.
The statements did not mention the violence that followed the transfer of prisoners from Litoral to El Rodeo. In four days of attacks, six police officers were killed and 21 bombings were carried out.
The violence led the government to declare a state of emergency in Guayas, Esmeraldas and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas Provinces, which is still in effect. Since the declaration, police have made 3,200 arrests.