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News > Latin America

Gang Clashes inside Cuenca's Prison Leave 20 Ecuadorians Dead

  • Prisoners with rifles on the roof of the Turi Prison, Cuenca, Ecuador, April 3, 2022.

    Prisoners with rifles on the roof of the Turi Prison, Cuenca, Ecuador, April 3, 2022. | Photo: Twitter/ @TMT30_

Published 4 April 2022

This is not the first time the Turi Jail has recorded a mass slaughter. Last year, 33 inmates were also killed, most of whom were decapitated and dismembered.

On Sunday, a prisoner riot in the Cuenca City's Turi Prison left 20 dead and 10 wounded. The bodies of five people were mutilated during the events.


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Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo acknowledged that the prisoners used rifles, pistols, and other "war materials" during a confrontation that began at 1:30 local time.

"There is an criminal organization that wants to have absolute power inside the center and there are some cells have rebelled against them," he said, adding that authorities adopted measures to prevent people belonging to criminal gangs can do the same in other centers.

Although no escapes were reported, 90 prisoners were evacuated. Social networks broadcast detonations and shots that could be heard outside the jail throughout the night. On Monday, some 800 officers and 200 military personnel were deployed to retake control of the jail.

The tweet reads, "During the riot at Cuenca's Turi prison, a video records the moment in which an inmate asks the Police for help. 'Help, my Second Lieutenant! We are not going to escape. We want to save our lives,' he said."

This is not the first time that the Turi jail has recorded a mass slaughter. On Feb. 23, 2021, for example, 33 inmates were killed, most of whom were decapitated and dismembered. This happened as part of a criminal gang war that broke out simultaneously in different cities and left 79 dead. In that year, 119 inmates also died in September and 62 prisoners in November.

President Guillermo Lasso's administration attributes the massacres to the dispute between gangs related to Colombian and Mexican drug cartels. Human rights organizations, however, highlight that the deaths occurred as a result of overcrowding, the negligence of the authorities, and the absence of crime prevention policies in the country.

Until the end of 2021, some 36,599 people were locked up in 36 prisons. At least 40 percent of them were in pretrial detention. In February, Lasso announced that he hopes to pardon some 5,000 people incarcerated for minor crimes and hire 1,400 new prison guards.

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