Prison staff arrested in Guayaquil following weapons search; ‘Many more’ arrests are expected
Ecuadorian authorities confirmed Friday that nine officials from the country’s prisons bureau in the city of Guayaquil had been arrested after weapons, explosives, and drugs were found in their offices “following the inspection of wards in the Penitenciaría del Litoral,” the Prosecutor’s Office said on its Twitter account after some 2,000 troops carried out three raids resulting in “the seizure of firearms, bladed weapons, ammunition, explosives, drugs, among other prohibited objects.”
Among those detained are the directors of the Provisional Detention Center and of the Litoral Penitentiary, five clerical officials, and two penitentiary guides, all of them members of the National Service of Integral Attention to Adults Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders (SNAI), the Attorney General’s Office said. Charges were to be filed soon, the Prosecutor’s Office went on.
Officials say that “many more” arrests of both administrative staff and prison guards are imminent as investigations continue.
President Guillermo Lasso explained that these operations had been undertaken “for the safety of the citizens and of the people deprived of their freedom.” Hence, the” Armed Forces and the Police entered CPL 2 and 5 at 5.45 a.m. (local time) in Guayaquil, carrying out controls of weapons, ammunition, and explosives,“ he added ahead of the Aug. 20 general elections.
The raids were on the women’s prison and on the Guayas prison complex which also includes the Litoral Penitentiary, Ecuador’s largest and most populated prison.
The SNAI pledged in a statement to ”provide all the collaboration within the investigations initiated for this cause, in order to clarify the facts that occurred“ after 30 pistols, two shotguns, 19 pistol and rifle magazines, 849 bullets of different caliber, and two explosive charges were seized.
Since last week, three interventions have been carried out in the Penitenciaría del Litoral, which houses 5,600 prisoners, after a new prison massacre took place between July 23 and 25 between gangs fighting for internal control of the prison, resulting in the death of 31 inmates and 14 wounded, after which President Lasso decreed an emergency for the entire prison system for 60 days ”due to serious internal commotion.“ Under the state of emergency, military and police units have intervened since last week in five prisons.
”This service, always respectful of the procedures that fall under the competence of the State Attorney General’s Office, will provide all the collaboration within the investigations that are initiated for this cause in order to clarify the facts that occurred,“ the SNAI also said after the ”operation to control arms, ammunition, and explosives in order to disarm criminal organizations and reestablish peace and order in the country’s prisons” after disturbances spread to other correctional facilities with more than a hundred guards held hostage, in addition to hunger strikes in about a dozen prisons.