Police and army troops restore order at Guayaquil prison while 53 hostages are released in Cuenca

Jul 25, 2023 | 0 comments

Order has been restored to Guayaquil’s Litoral Penitentiary, Interior Minister Juan Zapata announced Tuesday afternoon. Earlier, a combined force of 2,700 National Police and Army personnel stormed the prison which had been the scene of three days of deadly rioting.

Army troops stand guard of prisoners at the Litoral Penitentiary in Guayaquil on Tuesday afternoon.

Zapata said that 31 bodies have been recovered from three prison pavilions where the Los Tiguerones and the Los Lobos criminal gangs battled for supremacy. Prison guards described a grisly scene of blood-covered floors with human body parts scattered throughout the pavilions. Some prisoners involved in the killings posted social media videos of decapitations and mutilations on Sunday and Monday.

Zapata, who said police and military encountered no resistance when they entered the prison, said the death toll from the riot could rise as the search of facilities continues.

The Litoral Penitentiary, which houses 5,631 inmates, has been Ecuador’s most deadly prison in Ecuador over the past two years. It has seen six large-scale massacres, leaving 220 men dead.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, President Guillermo Lasso issued his second emergency declaration in 24 hours, this one aimed at restoring order to Ecuador’s prison system. The emergency will remain in effect for 60 days.

In Cuenca, the 53 prison employees held hostage at the Turi penitentiary were released as were hostages held by prisoners in six other prisons. According to Azuay Province Governor Consuelo Orellana, the prison guards and administrative staff taken hostage on Sunday were unharmed.

As police and military forces took control of Litoral, police reported that two commercial establishments were looted by gangs and several vehicles, including a bus, were set on fire in Guayaquil. The violence occurred on Perimetral Road in the
Trinitaria Island sector where at least a dozen armed men entered an appliance warehouse and electronics store, emptying storerooms and shelves of merchandise.

One gang burned tires in the streets near the looted establishments, blocking traffic and the arrival or police and ambulances.

Following the violence, the union representing municipal bus drivers said it may suspend service until it has assurances that buses will not be the targets of criminal gangs. Three of the city’s universities announced they were suspending in-person classes until the end of the week.

Violence also erupted in Esmeraldas where the Education Ministry suspended public school classes due to widespread gunfire. Several cars and trucks were burned by a street gang while firebombs damaged the prosecutor’s office and the electric authority headquarters.

Police claimed an attack by an armed gang on the Esmeraldas prison was repulsed but later said 17 prison employees were being held hostage.

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The Cuenca Dispatch

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