A state of emergency was declared in Ecuador’s prison system after a gang war inside a coastal lockup led to the deaths of at least 116 people, five of whom were beheaded.
On September 29th, Ecuador’s president, Guillermo Lasso, declared a state of emergency in the prison system after the gang war at the Litoral penitentiary in Guayaquil killed 116 and injured 80.
Authorities are calling this battle the worst prison bloodbath in the country’s history, and have blamed the bloodshed on gangs linked to international drug cartels which are fighting over control of the facility.
According to officials, at least five of the people killed were found to have been beheaded.
The state of emergency gave the government the power to deploy police and soldiers inside prisons, but President Lasso has stated that he could not guarantee that authorities had regained control of the prison as of yet.
“It is regrettable that the prisons are being turned into territories for power disputes by criminal gangs,” he said, adding that he would be taking strong action to regain control of the Litoral penitentiary and to prevent the violence from spreading to other prisons.
Images of the aftermath of the bloodbath have circulated on social media, showing dozens of bodies and carnage that resembled battlefields. The inmates fought with firearms, knives, and bombs, according to officials. The violence was so brutal and widespread that bodies were being found inside the prison’s pipelines.
“In the history of the country, there has not been an incident similar or close to this one,” said Ledy Zúñiga, the former president of Ecuador’s National Rehabilitation Council.
Relatives of inmates gathered outside of the prison’s morgue, mourning the loss of their loved ones. Many spoke to reporters, giving them graphic details as to how their relatives were killed and dismembered.