Ecuador: At Least 15 Killed In Latest Prison Riot

At least 15 prisoners were killed and 20 injured at Ecuador’s Cotopaxi No 1 prison in the province’s capital Latacunga – 50 miles south of the nation’s capital Quito – following clashes between inmates on Monday.

Ecuador: At Least 15 Killed In Latest Prison Riot
Image credit: Umanoide / Unsplash

Facts

  • At least 15 prisoners were killed and 20 injured at Ecuador’s Cotopaxi No 1 prison in the province’s capital Latacunga – 50 miles south of the nation’s capital Quito – following clashes between inmates on Monday.
  • All security protocols were reportedly activated, and Ecuador’s national police units quickly regained control. Members of the health ministry were deployed to treat the injured, and members of the armed forces were also reportedly on the scene.
  • Ecuadorian officials believe that the killing of convicted Peruvian drug trafficker Leandro "El Patrón" Norero triggered the riot. Norero, who was serving a 20-year sentence at Cotopaxi No 1, is said to have financed three separate criminal gangs in Ecuador via drug sales and was also accused of funding several political leaders.
  • This is the latest riot to hit the country's overcrowded prison system, which has been plagued by deadly clashes between rival gangs. Over 400 inmates have died in prison violence since 2020, according to the Spanish news agency Efe.
  • Government officials claim that these prison massacres result from national and international criminal groups vying for power and drug distribution routes.
  • A new emergency program to strengthen Ecuador's prison system was announced in cooperation with the EU on Sep. 13. The EU has donated €2.5M to finance the implementation of the 18-month program, which will focus on prison management, upgrading the use of certain technology, and riot training for staff.

Sources: BBC News, plenglish, cuencahighlife, Al Jazeera, New York Post, and Ecuador Times.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by CuencaHighLife. Ecuador's Constitutional Court has repeatedly undermined Pres. Guillermo Lasso's ability to curb prisoner violence: From barring the military from operating in prisons to the early release of certain prisoners and court rulings preventing guards from carrying weapons, the country's so-called judiciary system has played a direct role in this violence.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Cuenca Dispatch. While gangs play a real role in prison violence in Ecuador, so too does state violence, corruption, overcrowding and lack of basic services including wastewater treatment, medical attention and legal advice. Without reforms to deal with these structural causes of prison violence, penitentiaries will continue operating as schools of criminality that offer neither rehabilitation nor reintegration to its inmates.