The Ecuadorian police on Tuesday said at least 62 people had been killed in prison mutinies in three separate facilities. News of the violence comes as Ecuador struggles to deal with prison overcrowding and frequent violence between gangs.
The unrest happened at facilities in the port city of Guayaquil in the southwest, and at Cuenca and Latacunga in the Andes.
Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno wrote on Twitter that criminal organizations were behind the violence. The police and Interior Ministry are working to regain control of the prisons, Moreno wrote.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Patricio Pazmino tweeted that a centralized command post was now investigating concerted action by criminal organizations to generate violence in penitentiary centers.
Police who brought the situation under control in Guayaquil seized firearms, machetes, knives, and mobile phones from prisoners' cells, according to the prosecutor's office.
Riots sparked by gang rivalry in Ecuadorean jails left 11 prisoners dead in December. A 90-day state of emergency that Moreno ordered in the jails to bring mafia groups under control was lifted in November.
Inmate violence left 51 people dead in 2020, according to police figures. To reduce prisoner numbers amid the coronvirus pandemic the Ecuadorean government commuted sentences for minor offenses to non-custodial penalties.