Three inmates were found hanged Wednesday in a prison in Ecuador, where more than 400 people have died in bloody gang clashes at detention centers since 2021, authorities said. During a head count at the Riobamba prison, guards “identified three inmates suspended, without vital signs, with presumed indications of hanging,” the country’s prison authority SNAI said. The prosecutor’s office said on Twitter the bodies had been identified and transferred to the morgue in the city of Riobamba, about 180 kilometers (112 miles) south of the capital Quito. Authorities had earlier in the day confiscated firearms, cell phones, drugs, alcohol and knives at the prison. More than 420 prisoners have died in vicious fighting between criminal groups in Ecuadoran prisons since early 2021, against a backdrop of rival gangs fighting for control of lucrative drug trafficking routes and territory. Authorities did not indicate whether the three deceased prisoners found hanged Wednesday had belonged to criminal groups. In April, 12 detainees were killed in a shootout at a prison in the port city of Guayaquil, which has been hard-hit by violence related to drug trafficking. Days earlier, six prisoners had been found hanged in their cells at the same facility. According to a 2022 census of the country’s prisons, Ecuador has about 31,000 prisoners in 36 prisons with a capacity of 30,000 people.
June 22, 2023