A clash between gangs in an Ecuadorian prison has claimed at least 116 lives and injured 80 people. Authorities call the incident the worst massacre in Ecuadorian history. On Wednesday, officials said five of the dead had their heads cut off.
The country’s president, Guillermo Lasso, has declared a state of emergency in Ecuador’s prison system, which, among other powers, allows the government to deploy police and troops in prisons. Authorities linked Tuesday night to bloodshed in the coastal town of Gayakil, a prison jail that is linked to international drug cartels and is fighting to establish control of the prison.
President Lasso told a news conference that what was happening in the prison was “bad and unfortunate” and at the time he could not guarantee that the authorities had regained control of the prison.
Officials said the confrontation took place in the prison with the use of firearms, knives and bombs.
Former Ecuadorian director of military intelligence, Col. Mario Pazminio, said the bloody confrontation showed that “transnational organized crime has infiltrated the structure of Ecuadorian prisons.” He added that Sinaloa Mexico and Jelisco are a new generation of cartels operating through local gangs.
Earlier, the bloodiest day was in February, when 79 inmates were killed in simultaneous riots in three prisons across the country. Another 22 prisoners were killed in July. The castle was attacked by drones in September, but no one was killed at the time.