Ecuador prison tensions soar as four inmates found ‘hanged’
Quito, Ecuador — Four prisoners have died apparently by hanging in the latest flare-up to hit Ecuador’s correctional system, prison authorities said Sunday.
“During inspection of the pavilions, staff with the Security and Penitentiary Surveillance Corps identified four prisoners with no vital signs, and indications they had been hanged,” the national prisons office said in a press briefing on WhatsApp.
The incident took place at a prison in Portoviejo, in the country’s southwest, the office said.
Authorities say raging drug-gang violence in the country has claimed at least 420 lives since 2021.
Prisons in Ecuador, where groups are fighting it out for control of the market and drug trafficking routes, have become among the worst in Latin America.
The country’s 36 prisons, which have a capacity for some 30,000 people, currently house 31,321 prisoners, official data show. Most are arrested for drug trafficking.
Perched between Colombia and Peru, the world’s main cocaine producers, Ecuador has seized 455 tons of drugs since President Guillermo Lasso took office in May 2021.