13 detainees killed in new fight in Ecuadorian prison

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Thirteen inmates were killed and two others injured Monday in another bloody brawl at a notorious Ecuadorian prison, law enforcement officials said.

“Unfortunately, Central Command reports 13 (detainees) dead and two injured,” South American prison authority SNAI said on Twitter.

The incident happened at the same Bellavista prison in the town of Santo Domingo de los Colorados, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Quito, where 44 inmates were killed in a bloody scuffle in May.

Prison officials, aided by the military and police, were able to regain control of the facility, SNAI said.

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Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo later told a news conference that current information indicated “most” of the victims were Venezuelan.

Local media reported that some prisoners were beheaded or dismembered during the fight.

“The detainees’ relatives waited anxiously outside the prison as images of dismembered bodies reached their mobile phones and they stood fearless as ambulances entered,” national newspaper El Universo read.

Carrillo said the “primitive act of barbarism” pointed to the “psychological profile” of the inmates who took part in the fight.

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“So far, 13 bodies have been found and a full inspection is underway inside the prison,” he said, adding that it was “quite likely” that more bodies would be found.

Some 220 inmates escaped from prison during the May riot, but most of them were recaptured.

Vicious prison riots are common in Ecuadorian prisons, where drug gangs vie for control of trafficking routes.

These rivalries sometimes explode into macabre violence behind bars, with some inmates being massacred or beheaded with machetes.

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Nestled between the world’s biggest cocaine producers, Colombia and Peru, Ecuador has seen a spike in violence blamed on fights between rival drug groups.

The country of 17.7 million people is popular with traffickers due to its porous borders, dollarized economy and major export seaports.

Prisons are overcrowded and understaffed, and rampant corruption means inmates can get their hands on all manner of contraband, including firearms and explosives.

Since February 2021, there have been nearly a dozen prison massacres across the country, some of which have become among the worst in Latin America, with some 400 inmates killed.

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