Following attacks against police over prisoner transfers, gang fighting in Ecuador’s most violent jail has resulted in at least two fatalities, according to the prisons agency SNAI on Wednesday.
Six other people were hurt in the altercation at Penitenciaria prison in Guayaquil, according to the agency.
Five police officers were killed on Tuesday as a result of the more than 18 gun attacks and shootings against the force that followed the transfer of around 1,000 prisoners to two other detention facilities. According to SNAI, the transfers are an effort to lessen overcrowding and enhance conditions for offenders.
In response, President Guillermo Lasso imposed a curfew in the provinces of Guayas and Esmerelda for 45 days as well as a state of emergency.
Thousands of bombs and dynamite sticks were confiscated, and police detained 36 people who were reportedly related to the attacks.
Lasso has consistently charged that drug gangs use violence to retaliate against his government’s efforts to curb them, even within jails. Drugs traveling to Europe and the United States pass through Ecuador.
Defense Minister Luis Lara told reporters that more than 1,400 soldiers are assisting police in Guayaquil and Esmeraldas, and that number may rise.
Earlier that day, authorities in the southern El Oro province halted a truck that was transporting 150,000 detonating capsules, 1,200 sticks of dynamite, and 16,416 sticks of explosives.
Since late 2020, jail violence has increased dramatically in Ecuador, murdering at least 400 people and terrifying convicts’ families despite decades of structural issues.