At least three bombs dropped from drones exploded at the Guayaquil Regional Prison jail early Monday morning, one of them causing extensive damage to the facility’s roof. According to police, the bombs were intended for leaders of the Los Choneros crime gang which is associated with the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel.
It was not clear if the gang targets, alias Junior and Fito, were in the area where the bombs detonated. The pair is housed temporarily at the jail, which is adjacent to the Guayaquil prison on the highway to Daule. Police believe the bombings, which rattled windows and woke nearby residents, were coordinated by the Nueva Generación cartel, rival of Sinaloa.
Although it was not confirmed by police, jail guards said that several prisoners associated with Los Choneros, climbed onto the jail roof as the drones approached and attempted to shoot them down. “Obviously, the Los Choneros knew that the drone attack was coming and attempted to intercept it,” an unidentified guard said.
According to prison director Jorge Haz, the bombs were intended to inflect heavy damage. “These were large explosives carried by large drones. This is the first time this has happened and we must make preparations for future attacks but this will take time.”
Haz noted that in recent months, drones have been used in unsuccessful attempts to drop drugs and firearms onto prison grounds in Guayaquil and Cuenca. “The cartels are using more sophisticated technology and we will need to respond.”
Police say the bombings are part of the continuing battle, both inside and outside the prisons, between the Los Choneros and Los Tiguerones gangs. “Los Tiguerones is an arm of the Nueva Generación cartel and we believe they arranged today’s attack,” a police investigator said at the scene. Junior and Fito assumed prison leadership of Los Choneros in December following the murder of gang leader “Rasquiña” in a Manta shopping mall.
The battle between the rival gangs is believed to be responsible for more than 80 prison riot deaths in Guayaquil, Cuenca and Latacunga since the beginning of year, as well an estimated 300 murders in Guayaquil and other coastal cities.