The death toll from a riot at one of Ecuador’s largest
prisons has risen to 116, Ecuadorian President Guillermo
Lasso said on Wednesday, adding that he would send
additional security forces and free up funds to avoid a
Another 80 inmates were injured during Tuesday night
clashes at the Penitenciaria del Litoral in Guayas province,
which has been the scene of bloody fights between gangs
for control of the prison in recent months.
“It is unfortunate that criminal groups are attempting to
convert prisons into a battleground for power disputes,”
Lasso told reporters in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city. “I
ask God to bless Ecuador and that we can avoid more loss
of human life.”
Tuesday’s clash is the most deadly act of violence ever
reported in Ecuador’s penitentiary system. Similar clashes
took place in February and July 2021 in various prisons
throughout the country. At least 79 people died in the
February violence, and 22 in July.
Dozens of people arrived at the jail to seek information
about relatives and demand accountability from officials
responsible for the inmates’ safety, while the government
bolstered military presence outside the facility. Lasso said
the state would assist the families of dead and injured
The South American country’s Prosecutor’s office said
earlier on Wednesday that six of the slain prisoners at
Penitenciaria del Litoral had been decapitated.
The riot is thought to have been sparked by a birthday
party that was thrown for the leader of the Los Choneros
gang on September 24. During the party, gang members
had boasted that they controlled the jail and taunted their
rivals, according to local news site Primacias.
Unwilling to take the provocation laying down, members of
the Tiguerones and Lobos gangs planned a revenge attack
that they launched on Tuesday morning by crawling
through a hole separating the jail wings in which they were
housed and into wings holding Choneros members.
Once inside, they began throwing grenades and beheading
rival gang members, before the Choneros struck back with
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(IACHR) has previously condemned the violence, and
Human Rights Watch urged Ecuador’s government to fully
investigate the prison violence and bring those responsible
Lasso in August said the government would provide more
funding for the overcrowded prison system to build new
wards and install new equipment to improve security.