At Least 116 people have Died in a Prison Riot in Ecuador
Ecuador is trying to restore order in one of its largest prisons after a riot that killed at least 116 prisoners in the latest attack of violence, which authorities linked to groups fighting to control drug trafficking routes, Reuters reports.
National police say they have sent 400 officers to a prison in Guayas province to regain control after the deadliest wave of prison violence in the history of the South American state, in which another 80 prisoners were also injured. Officers seized three explosive devices found in the cells. "We will continue to intervene in prison in the coming days," police commander Tanya Varela told reporters on Thursday." The police will continue to act to regain control."
The violence began Tuesday in a prison on the outskirts of Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city, followed by prison riots in February and July. Authorities have linked earlier clashes with rival local groups linked to transnational criminal groups fighting to control drug trafficking in Ecuador.
Prison overcrowding and underfunding are also major problems in South America and have contributed to unrest in recent years in Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, as well as in Ecuador. Asked Wednesday night whether the clash this week involved drug trafficking, Fausto Cobo, director of the Ecuadorian Center for Strategic Intelligence, said the violence was "linked to other serious problems". "This is a problem that goes beyond the problem of the penal system," Kobo told reporters." This is a threat to the Ecuadorian state."
Although not a major drug producer, Ecuador is a major transit center for cocaine from neighboring Colombia and Peru to the United States and Europe, much of which is hidden in legal container cargo departing from the port of Guayaquil, according to a US State Department report from March 2021
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