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Ecuador sends 3,600 soldiers and policemen to “guarantee security” in prisons

Ecuador deployed 3,600 military and police officers throughout the prison system to “guarantee the security” in those facilities, announced on Friday the Minister of Government (Interior), Alexandra Vela, after a riot of prisoners that leaves 118 dead.

“The government keeps mobilized permanently, daily in all the penitentiary centers of the Ecuador 3,600 members of the National Police and the Armed Forces ”, The official said at a press conference in Quito, adding that the operation is to “guarantee security” in the prisons.

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The administration of President Guillermo Lasso, who took office last May, made that decision after the revolt in a jail in the port of Guayaquil (southwest) on Tuesday, which left at least 118 dead, including six beheaded, and 86 wounded.

In that prison, with 8,500 people and an overcrowding that reaches 60% according to official figures, a confrontation with firearms broke out between rival gangs with ties to international drug trafficking that are vying for power.

The Armed Forces indicated for their part that “It carries out a control of arms, ammunition, explosives and accessories in the first entrance filter and in the access roads and areas of influence of the Social Rehabilitation Centers, using land, river and air means”.

At the joint press conference with Vela in the government house, the director of prisons, Bolívar Garzón, indicated in turn that Ecuador plans to grant pardons for some 2,000 inmates over 65 years of age and with illnesses or disabilities, as well as repatriate foreigners with sentences so that they can finish serving them in their nation.

10% of the total prison population is foreigners, mostly Colombians and Venezuelans.

“Reduce overcrowding”

The measures aim to decongest the Ecuadorian prison system somewhat, whose capacity is for 30,000 people and which for several years has been facing a crisis due to an overpopulation of 30%, lack of guards, budget reduction, corruption and the war between gangs with links with Mexican and Colombian drug trafficking.

The Constitution empowers the president of the republic to grant pardons, as well as the National Assembly for humanitarian reasons with the vote of two-thirds (91 of the 137 deputies).

Garzón said that the government also plans to build prison infrastructure to “Decrease overcrowding.”

“We are going to focus on full control” from the jail where the riot was registered, one of the main in the country, he added.

Meanwhile, the Police maintain on Friday search actions in the convulsed Guayaquil prison in which members of criminal gangs with ties to the Mexican cartels of Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva Generación clashed.

The inspections, which on Thursday allowed the confiscation of three pistols, 435 ammunition, 25 knives and three explosive devices, are part of the actions implemented within the state of emergency decreed by President Lasso on Wednesday for the entire prison apparatus, suspending rights of inmates and mobilizing the public force to maintain order.

The Police also intervened in prisons in other localities, seizing ammunition, knives and drugs.

So far in 2021, prison riots in Ecuador they leave 237 dead and 166 wounded. In February, 79 inmates died in simultaneous riots in four prisons in three cities.

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