13 dead in Ecuador jail violence

BARRIO – A fight between rival gangs in a prison in Ecuador has left at least 13 inmates dead and two injured, officials say.

The deadly fight broke out just two months after 44 inmates were killed in a confrontation at the same jail in the city of Santo Domingo.

The authorities said they had regained full control of Bellavista prison.

Prison violence has shot up since February 2021 with more than 400 inmates killed in gruesome gang wars battled out behind bars.

Interior Minister Carrillo said that 13 bodies had been recovered following this latest deadly incident at Bellavista jail.

“It is likely that in the cell-by-cell search, more bodies will appear, but we don’t know for sure,” Mr Carrillo added.

The minister said that members of the R7 gang had targeted inmates who were in the process of setting up a rival gang.

While the gang engages mainly in extortion and drug dealing it is particularly influential in a number of prisons with R7 members reportedly behind an earlier deadly fight in Bellavista prison and another at Turi jail in April.

Gang violence has surged in Ecuador in recent years.

The country is located between Colombia and Peru, the two largest producers of cocaine, and has become a key transit country for drugs smuggled from Latin America to the US.

Local gangs have increasingly become infiltrated by or aligned with powerful transnational crime syndicates and have adopted the gruesome tactics used by Mexican cartels such as decapitating and dismembering victims.

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