Six inmates were found dead hanging from their necks inside their cells at the infamous Ecuadorian prison of El Litoral in Guayaquil, the South American country's National Service of Attention to Persons Deprived of Liberty (SNAI) reported Wednesday.
Local media dubbed the event as one of the most gruesome cases of prison violence this year in a country that has been plagued with this type of incident in the past decade. Groups linked to drug trafficking are said to be behind these actions. In the last two years, prison massacres in Ecuador have left more than 400 inmates dead.
Gangs such as Los Chone Killers, Los Choneros, Los Lobos, and Los Tiguerones dominate drug trafficking in Ecuador, while law enforcement officials claim to have seized more than 200 tons of narcotics in 2022.
So far this year, the SNAI has reported several violent confrontations in various prisons nationwide. The Litoral Penitentiary is considered one of the most violent in the country. It mainly houses drug gang leaders.
Prison guards found six people deprived of their liberty suspended, the SNAI said in a statement. The agency said the bodies were found in Ward 5, which houses some 6,800 inmates and is part of a large prison complex, according to AFP. Wednesday's deaths come a week after a confrontation between two gangs in La Roca prison in Guayaquil, which left three people dead and one injured.
In 2022 alone the number of homicides in Ecuador rose to over 4,000. Clashes between gangs fighting for territorial drug trafficking control are one of the main reasons for this situation, according to local media. Ecuador registered a record annual seizure of 210 tons of cocaine in 2021. So far this year seizures have reached 170 tons.