At least 15 inmates were killed Monday in a riot at the Cotopaxi prison in the Ecuadorian city of Latacunga (center), Ecuador’s Attorney General’s Office (FGE) said.
“After the clashes registered in the CPL of Cotopaxi, 15 bodies of PPL (people deprived of liberty) were brought to the place,” the institution published its account on the social network Twitter.
The report added that Leandro Norero, alias “El Patrón”, considered by anti-drug authorities as one of the leading drug traffickers and prosecuted for alleged money laundering, is among the dead.
The prosecutor’s office announced that the victims’ bodies would be taken to the forensic medical center in Ambato town near Latacunga to carry out the appropriate procedures.
The riot, which led to clashes at the prison, occurred Monday afternoon and prompted prison authorities to activate all security protocols, including the arrival of police tactical teams.
Under interagency cooperation protocols, the Armed Forces supported the lockdown of the prison’s perimeter, while the Ministry of Health responded to the emergency with its contingent.
The agency in charge of prison control and management has not provided any information on the reasons for the unrest, which has already been brought under control by security forces.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso deplored the incidents and offered condolences to the families of the murdered inmates.
This came against the backdrop of a severe crisis that has rocked the South American country’s penal system since 2021.
“I send a message of condolences and solidarity to the families of those who died today at Cotopaxi,” the president said in a television interview.
“Protocols are being applied: first, to control the prison; second, to identify those who died and those who were injured; and third, to support the families of those who were deprived of their liberty in the Cotopaxi prison and who must be feeling great fear at this moment,” Lasso added.
The Cotopaxi Governor’s Office established a unified command post to manage the situation in the area.
The Ecuadorian government attributes the prison unrest to clashes between rival gangs linked to drug trafficking fighting to control the prisons.
In 2021, there was a wave of violence in the prisons with constant riots that killed more than 300 inmates.
This situation continued in 2022, prompting the government to declare a frontal attack on the drug mafia.