67 killed in Ecuador jail riots
QUITO, Ecuador — At least 67 prisoners died on Tuesday during violent riots in three Ecuadorian prisons due to clashes between rival gangs, the Director of the Comprehensive Care Service for Adults Deprived of Liberty, Edmundo Moncayo, said in a news conference at the government palace in Quito.
Moncayo said 800 police officers have been helping to regain control of the facilities. Hundreds of officers from tactical units had been deployed since the clashes broke out late Monday.
Moncayo said two groups were trying to gain “criminal leadership within the detention centers” and the clashes were precipitated by a search for weapons carried out on Monday by police officers.
“The numbers are totally awful and I have to painfully report a total of 67 people dead in the three centers of confinement,” Moncayo said.
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno tweeted he has ordered the Ministry of Defense “to exercise strict control of weapons, ammunition and explosives in the outer perimeters of prisons” as a result of this week’s riots.
The deaths occurred in social rehabilitation centers in the provinces of Guayas (southwest), Cotopaxi (center) and Azuay (south), where about 70 percent of the country’s prison population is concentrated.