Government’s patience ‘wears thin’ in hostage talks; Noboa rejects Los Lobos leader’s surrender offer; Show police report at the border; New prison plans

Jan 12, 2024 | 0 comments

The government continues talks with inmates holding hostages in six prisons but says its patience is wearing thin. “If the people are not released very, very soon, we are prepared to take measures to rescue them,” President Daniel Noboa said Thursday. He added that additional military personnel have been sent to prisons under the control of prisoners.

An estimated 178 guards, administrative personnel and kitchen staff remain in the custody of prisoners.

According to National Police Commander Cesar Zapata, the demand that prisoner transfers end will not be met. “We have made it clear we will not negotiate that point,” he said. “We are talking about other issues but all talks must end soon.”

President Daniel Noboa, center, presented plans for two new maximum-security prisons on Thursday.

According to Zapata, rumors that some hostages have been killed have not been confirmed. “We have had direct contact with the hostage groups and we believe they are being treated humanely. If we find out otherwise we will initiate immediate action.”

In comments Thursday to a radio reporter, Noboa said plans are being developed to stop future prison takeovers. “These events have happened again and again, and previous governments have done nothing to change the circumstances that allow it,” he said. “It is my intent to put an end to this pattern and to end prisoner control of the prisons.”

Noboa rejects Los Lobos leader’s demand
President Daniel Noboa has rejected Colón Pico’s offer to turn himself if he receives safety guarantees. “Surrender if you want but I will not offer you any special consideration,” the president said. “I am sick of criminals dictating terms and conditions to the government for their incarceration.”

Pico, leader of the Los Lobos gang, escaped from the Riobamba prison January 8, two days after he was arrested in Quito. In a video posted on social media Thursday and directed to Noboa, Pico said he feared for his life, especially if he is transferred to the high security La Roca prison in Guayaquil. “I will report to the police if I get your guarantee for my safety.”

In his comments, Noboa said Pico will be captured if he does not turn himself in voluntarily. Pico has more than 20 charges pending against him, including for murder and drug trafficking.

Police report required at the border
The Interior Ministry announced Thursday that all foreigners entering Ecuador at the Colombian and Peruvian borders must present a five-year police report. “The current national emergency requires us to tighten border security in light of the internal armed conflict underway in Ecuador,” the Ministry said in a statement. “This requirement will remain in place during the term of the emergency.”

According to the Ministry directive, the police report must be apostilled.

Foreign travelers entering the country by air are exempt from the requirement as are children under the age of 16 accompanied by a relative who presents a police report.

Noboa presents new prison plans
President Daniel Noboa presented plans Thursday for two maximum security prisons to be built in Pastaza and Santa Elena Provinces. He said the new prisons follow design elements used in El Salvador, Mexico and Israel. Construction will begin later this month and require 200 days to complete, he said.

According to Noboa, the locations of the prisons were chosen to be in remote areas “far from the influence of narco-terrorist groups.” The prisons will be 20 to 30 minutes, by car, from the nearest town.

Special features of the prisons include: Special high security isolation cells; Blocking technology of internet and satellite transmission; State-of-the-art security systems; Triple-layer perimeter security; Electrical self-generation; Water treatment facilities; and anonymous guard capability.

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