A series of at least four car bombs and prison riotswhere there are police and guards held by the prisoners, returned this Thursday to turn on the alarm due to the situation of violence in Ecuador, a few days after the bloody first round of the presidential elections concluded, with the assassination of the candidate Fernando Villavicencio.
In a matter of a few hours, between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, four vehicles with explosive devices were searched that ended up burned without leaving victims. two of them in Quito and two others in Machala and Pasaje, two cities in the southern province of El Oro, bordering Peru.
Both the car explosions and the riots occurred a few hours after a massive intervention with 2,200 police and military personnel at the Latacunga prison, located in the province of Cotopaxi, some 70 kilometers south of Quito, and allegedly controlled by the criminal gang calling itself Los Lobos.
That would explain, according to the authorities, that the Quito vehicles were directed against buildings linked to the National Comprehensive Care Service for Persons Deprived of Liberty (SNAI)the state department in charge of the control and administration of the 35 prisons that Ecuador has.
In that operation in the Latacunga prison 49 knives and two bulletproof vests were seized, among other prohibited objects, similar to other interventions carried out previously in other prisons with the aim of stopping the series of prison massacres that, due to clashes between these gangs, have left more than 400 prisoners murdered since 2020.
Weeks ago, in the Guayaquil prison complex, a set of five prisons that house some 12,300 prisoners, where they found an arsenal of weapons of war such as rifles, grenade launchers and grenades in the hands of the prisoners.
For the first time, the police and military entered one of the prisons presumably controlled by Los Lobos to requisition weapons, which led to riots in other prisons controlled by the same criminal group, such as those in the cities of Cuenca, Azogues and Machala.
Although the Police are still investigating the relationship between the explosions in Quito and those in the other two cities, the similarity between them and the coincidence in time leads investigators to think about their connection, and they think that a criminal gang may be behind these “terrorist acts”, how they have been rated.
For the Police, both car bombs and riots are a response of organized crime to the interventions that together with the Armed Forces is being carried out in prisons to disarm the criminal gangs that internally control the country’s prisons.
So far there are ten people arrested for their alleged links to the two cars that exploded in Quito, and none in relation to the other two events in southern Ecuador.
It is the first to be registered in the capital of Ecuador a alleged simultaneous car bomb attacksomething that had already been seen last year in Guayaquil, one of the epicenters of the country’s crisis of violence, as the largest Ecuadorian port is located there, and a large exit door for cocaine trafficked by organized crime.
Guards held by prisoners
The biggest riot occurred in the Cuenca prison, where the prisoners held 57 agents, including 50 SNAI prison guards and seven police officers. A total of 600 police and military personnel have remained outside the prison since Wednesday without entering it.
“We are concerned about the safety of our officials, both police officers and prison agents,” Zapata acknowledged, who stated that The authorities manage a line of action to safeguard the integrity of those detained, Although he said that he could not reveal it for security.
On social networks, a video allegedly recorded from inside the Cuenca prison went viral, apparently by the police and prison guards detained where they appealed to the Government to find a solution that allows their release. Another fifteen guards are being held in the Machala prison, according to local reports, something that has not yet been confirmed by the SNAI.
There was also an attempted riot in the Quito “Virgilio Guerrero” juvenile correctional facility, where adolescents caused a fire on the second and third floors of this center, forcing the firefighters to make a large deployment to control the flames without apparently no victims were recorded.
These episodes are part of the growing wave of violence in which Ecuador is immersed, which has caused the country to go from 5.8 to 25.32 intentional homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in five years in 2022, the highest figure in its history, with recurring murders and massacres linked to organized crime and drug trafficking.