QUITO – A prison riot in north-central Ecuador's Pichincha province has left at least 41 inmates dead and another 13 injured, the nation's prison management agency said Monday.
The National Comprehensive Care Service for Persons Deprived of Liberty (SNAI) updated an earlier report from the Attorney General's Office that had placed the death toll at 43 in the Regional Prison in Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas.
The SNAI added that members of the National Police force were able to regain full control of the prison and a specialized team from the government's Human Rights Secretariat was dispatched to the city's Crime Unit Forensic Center to provide support
According to a statement from the SNAI, the riot broke out at 2:00 am local time (0800 GMT) in the prison's maximum security wing after a leader of a criminal ring was transferred there by court order.
The agency added that members of the National Police force were able to regain full control of the prison and a specialized team from the government's Human Rights Secretariat was dispatched to the city's Crime Unit Forensic Center to provide support to the relatives of inmates killed in the melee.
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In addition, 112 prisoners who had escaped from the prison amid the chaos were recaptured, the agency said.
Police found weapons during a subsequent search of the maximum security wing, including four rifle-style firearms, three pistols, a revolver, four grenades and 1,800 2.23 caliber cartridges, it added.
"There is evidence of destruction of part of the (prison's) infrastructure" and of "blasts set off by the use of explosive devices," it said, adding that security measures have been stepped up at prisons across the nation to head off further riots.
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Ecuador's prison system is in crisis due to constant clashes between rival drug trafficking rings vying for control of the prisons.
In 2021, the country saw a wave of prison riots that left more than 300 inmates dead and that has not abated.