The Macabre prison confrontation in Ecuadorwhich left 44 inmates dead, lasted for about five hours without law enforcement authorities being able to intervene or control it, as is known 24 hours after the dramatic events recorded at the Bellavista Rehabilitation Center in the province of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas .
(Read here: Massacres in Ecuador’s prisons: What’s behind it?)
This is confirmed by the digital portal Plan V who had access to a confidential report, with minute-by-minute details, of the sixth prison massacre recorded in Ecuador since February 2021 in which nearly 400 detainees have been cruelly murdered.
The scenes of pain of the relatives who struggled to recognize or remove the bodies of the murdered inmates were repeated again in the face of harsh social questioning that does not explain how massacres are repeated without measures being taken to prevent them. “My brother was imprisoned for micro-trafficking but he did not deserve to die like this, they destroyed his face, stabbed him in the stomach and in the back, he must have suffered and screamed a lot,” lamented a young woman outside the forensic center.
As of Tuesday, some 25 bodies had already been identified and were placed in simple coffins and transferred by relatives in rented vans. However, most prefer not to speak out of pain and fear of reprisals.
My brother was imprisoned for micro-trafficking but he did not deserve to die like that, they destroyed his face, stabbed him in the stomach and in the back, he must have suffered and screamed a lot
so far this year, Ecuador registers the death of 1,339 people victims of murder, contract killing, homicide and femicideaccording to information to which EL TIEMPO had access.
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Of these, 79 percent are due to criminal violence. “Of those killed, 33 percent had a criminal record, while 67 percent had no criminal record,” the report says. Most of the events are related to micro-trafficking and settling scores between gangs.
The violence in the streets is a reflection of what happens in prisons. According to the authorities, the deaths were caused by a confrontation between drug gangs that fight for prison control and micro-trafficking in the main cities of the country and that, according to police reports, are linked to Mexican and Colombian cartels.
Despite the fact that the clashes began after one in the morning on Monday, the police members only received the order to enter the prison center at 6:54 in the morning, according to the media publication.
The pavilions were under control and without security, so the attackers, members of the gang ‘los lobos’ they had the control to assassinate their rivals, members of the ‘R7’ gang in the cells of the maximum security pavilion.
A confrontation between these same criminal groups took place on April 3 in the Turi prison, in the south of the country, which left 20 dead. As a consequence, five leaders of these groups were transferred to La Roca, a maximum security prison in the coastal city of Guayaquil. Among them Marcelo Anchundia, leader of the ‘R7’, and Alexander Quezada, alias Ariel, leader of ‘Los Lobos’.
the two characters, rivals for prison leadership and control of the streets, under arguments of mistreatment and risk to their lives, achieved two habeas corpus who ordered his prison relocation. Anchundia was transferred to the Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas prison and alias Ariel to a prison in the province of Cotopaxi, in the central highlands of the country.
(In other news: Rafael Correa’s move to get rid of Ecuadorian justice)
But the prison authorities did not take into account that the Santo Domingo prison had become a stronghold of ‘Los Lobos’, due to the judicial relocation of 124 members of their organization.
“The measures adopted by certain judges end up being dramatic and generate these incidents. It is predictable that those who seek to move from a deprivation center and find legal support are the ones behind, unfortunately, these massacres,” said the Minister of the Interior, Patricio Carrillo, questioning the judicial actions that allow impunity and avoid disciplinary sanctions. those who are involved in these violent acts.
According to police reports, take revenge on Anchundia, by order of ‘Ariel’, would have unleashed the massacre last Monday, which also left 11 injured and allowed the escape of 220 prisoners, of whom at least 70 remain to be recovered.
The wolves were looking for Anchundia and asked the other prisoners to give away their location, but he was guarded by the Police and taken out of the prison center
“’The wolves’ were looking for Anchundia and asked the other prisoners to reveal their location, but he was guarded by the Police and taken out of the prison. All those identified as ‘R7’ were cruelly tortured, stabbed, cut and their throats cut,” a police officer who intervened in the raid after the events told EL TIEMPO.
as detailed Plan Vat 2:10 in the morning, the director of the Santo Domingo prison reported that there were disturbances and confrontations with firearms between the two groups and 35 minutes later, the police evacuated Anchundia out of the center, because it was presumed that would make an attempt on his life. Now, he is out of danger, but with a precedent that predicts convulsive moments for Ecuador.
The files beyond Freddy Anchundia, whom they wanted to kill in Ecuador
In addition to Freddy Anchundia, one of the alleged leaders of the ‘R7’ that the authorities point to as the cause of the massacre, there were many more prisoners who were transferred from Cuenca to Santo Domingo after the April 3 massacre.
The director of the National Comprehensive Care Service (SNAI) for persons deprived of liberty, Pablo Ramírez, acknowledged in statements to the Teleamazonas channel that there were 124 prisoners transferred from the Cuenca prison to the Santo Domingo prison in April.
These transfers took place in fulfillment of habeas corpus granted by the Ecuadorian Justice, at the request of the prisoners themselves, despite the opposition of the SNAI, the body in charge of administering and guarding Ecuadorian prisons. This aggravated the overcrowding of the Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas prison, a prison with a capacity for 916 inmates, but which at the end of April exceeded 1,600, which represents an overcrowding of 76%, according to SNAI data.
However, the Provincial Court of Justice of Azuay, whose capital is Cuenca, rejected in a statement that its decisions had led to the massacre in Santo Domingo and stated that the only culprit for the prison crisis is the SNAI for having lost control of the prisons and allow lethal weapons to enter.
What happens in the other prisons at risk?
Meanwhile, in Cuenca, given the rumors of a possible new riot, the security of the prison was reinforced with a detachment of police and military, as well as ambulances outside.
At the same time, the mayor of Cuenca, Pedro Palacios, strongly opposed the arrival of more prisoners to the prison that is located on the outskirts of his city. “Cuenca is respected. We are going to carry out all the necessary actions so that the peace, security and freedom of the Cuencan families are safeguarded“, he stated in a statement where he called a citizen assembly for Tuesday afternoon to demand “no more deceptions or false promises.”
“The latest riot on April 3 shows that it does not have the conditions to house more people deprived of their liberty or to guarantee the minimum security conditions to protect the surrounding areas and, of course, our city,” Palacios said.
The situation did not go unnoticed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who pointed to the State as responsible for the deaths because they were people in her custody and demanded to investigate the facts and reform the justice system and the penitentiary.
Recently, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a report in which it urged the Ecuadorian government to regain control of the prisons, provide decent conditions for prisoners and develop crime prevention policies where incarceration does not prevail.
According to the director of the SNAI, there are currently 33,000 prisoners in the 36 centers that Ecuador has, with a total capacity of just over 30,000. To solve the prison crisis, the Government of Ecuador seeks to hire 1,400 new prison officers, grant around 5,000 pardons to prisoners convicted of minor crimes and implement the country’s first human rights policy towards the prison population.
ANA LUCIA ROMAN
FOR THE TIME