Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso Monday said his country was under attack by drug trafficking gangs, which are allegedly trying to take over the country's prisons, where riots have cost the lives of hundreds of inmates over the past few months.
Ecuador is under a serious external threat due to the attack by drug trafficking mafias, the same ones that seek to take control of the country's [incarceration] centers and take away our freedom in the streets and cities, Lasso said in a statement to the press in Guayaquil.
Just this weekend, Ecuadorian authorities have identified the bodies of 34 of the 68 inmates killed at Guayaquil's Litoral Penitentiary, the city's main prison.
The Government explained in a statement that the Human Rights Secretariat would handle the delivery of the bodies to the families, while crime scene units were still canvassing the penitentiary for further clues and trying to establish the identity of the others deceased.
“The process of handing over the bodies consists of carrying out an autopsy, which must be endorsed by the Prosecutor's Office; request the authorization of the data from the Civil Registry and verify if they are certified; grant the death certificate; and, finally, deliver the body in the coffin to the relatives, the statement said.
The revolt, which also left 25 inmates injured, took place late Friday and early Saturday and was believed to be linked to drug trafficking gang fights, according to the Ecuadorian National Police.
The uprisings took place after group leaders of several prison wards had been released, after serving 60% of their sentences.
After the incident, new episodes were reported at the same prison, but with no casualties. The National Police deployed 900 troops inside the Litoral prison, as well as on the outer perimeter, to control the situation.
According to the latest press reports, there were no further incidents in the 36 detention centers nationwide.
Lasso himself chaired a crisis cabinet” when the incident broke out, holding meetings with international advisors on the matter.
Another revolt at the same penitentiary on Sept. 29 had left at least 118 inmates dead.
Clashes between rival gangs are constant in Ecuadorian prisons, a situation that registers more than 300 prisoners killed this year, according to reports from the National Police.