The latest episode in the saga of Ecuadorian prison riots has left at least two inmates killed and five others injured at the penitentiary in Santo Domingo de Los Tsáchilas, it was reported Monday by the National Service of Integral Attention to Adults Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders.
The victims died as a result of gang fights between the same rival groups which last month staged a massacre in the prison of the southern city of Cuenca, where 20 inmates died and at least 10 others were wounded, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo explained.
The Santo Domingo de Los Tachilas riot broke out between 2.30 and 3.00 am local time (7.30 and 8.00 GMT) when some 40 inmates tried to escape but were recaptured by corrections officers with help from the National Police.
Carrillo explained the law enforcement officers easily retook control of the low and medium-security wards of the facility but encountered heavier resistance when it came down to the maximum security section. The minister announced that once the entire prison is under control, a thorough search of the facilities will be carried out.
”We are controlling and arranging some actions so that violence is not unleashed in the rest of the (penitentiary) centers,” Carrillo pointed out.
He added that the riot leaders would be transferred to the maximum-security prison of La Roca, in the coastal province of Guayas.
Nearly 400 inmates have been killed in Ecuador in the last two years in clashes between rival drug trafficking organizations fighting for internal control of the prisons, with ramifications inside and outside the penitentiary centers.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) recently issued a report on Ecuador's prison crisis in which it urged the government to regain internal control of prisons, provide decent conditions for inmates and develop crime prevention policies that do not prioritize incarceration.
Until the end of 2021, there were more than 36,000 inmates in 36 centers, including prisons and social rehabilitation centers, whose capacity is 30,000, although overcrowding reached 62% in prisons such as Guayaquil, the most populated in the country with 7,231 inmates and the scene of the bloodiest episodes experienced last year.
To solve the prison crisis, the government of President Guillermo Lasso is in the process of hiring 1,400 new prison officers, granting around 5,000 pardons to prisoners convicted of minor crimes, and developing the country's first human rights policy for the prison population.