Ten killed in transfer of gang bosses to Ecuador prison riots | Crime news

Ecuador has experienced eight prison riots since February 2021 that have killed about 400 inmates.

Ten inmates have been killed in a riot at a prison in Ecuador’s capital Quito.

The prison riots and murders represent the latest challenge to the country’s prison system, in which about 400 inmates have died in gang-related violence since last year, the prison authority said.

The latest unrest broke out at El Inca prison on Friday, shortly after the government said it would move inmates suspected of masterminding previous disturbances at the prison to a maximum-security prison.

One of the inmates whose move sparked the violence, Jonathan Bermudez, the Los Lobos gang leader, was responsible for previous murders in El Inca, according to a statement from the president’s office.

The prison authority said that “members of this criminal organization (Los Lobos) have retaliated violently” for moving from Bermudez to another prison.

Police Chief Victor Herrera told reporters the prison was under security, with heavy security as forensic personnel removed the bodies of the dead. Herrera said the cause of death “appeared to be strangulation”.

Since February 2021, Ecuador has experienced eight prison massacres that left about 400 dead; many of the victims were beheaded or burned.

The last gang-led prison riot was on November 8 in Quito, which left five inmates dead.

Ecuador’s president Guillermo Lasso said the country will not be intimidated by gang leaders.

“We told them our hand wouldn’t shake,” Lasso said on Twitter about Friday’s handover of the gang leaders, warning of “the same fate for those who continue their efforts to break the peace of Ecuadorians.”

Lasso also thanked law enforcement for restoring order to the prison and cracking down on what he described as “narco-terrorist leaders”.

Earlier this month, Lasso’s government relocated some 2,400 prisoners, sparking an uprising by gang members on the streets who continued to shoot and bomb petrol and police stations.

The attacks in the port city of Guayaquil killed eight people, including five police officers.

Lasso responded to those attacks by declaring a state of emergency and a curfew in the provinces of Guayas, Esmeraldas and Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas. He also sent troops to the three provinces, where a third of Ecuador’s 18 million people live.

Ecuador, once a relatively peaceful neighbor to the leading cocaine producers Colombia and Peru, has turned from a drug transit route into a vital distribution center ravaged by drug violence.

Authorities blame the surge in violent crime on rival gangs linked to Mexican cartels.

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