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  04 Oct 2022, 11:12

At least 15 dead in new Ecuador prison riot

LATACUNGA, Ecuador, Oct 4, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - At least 15 prisoners died Monday in the latest riots to strike Ecuador's troubled prison system, officials in the South American country reported.

The riots left 15 people dead and 21 injured, said a statement from SNAI, the agency that manages Ecuador's prisons.

The SNAI had earlier announced that tactical units were continuing operations to regain control of the facility, located in the southern Ecuadoran city of Latacunga.

The prison, which houses about 4,300 prisoners and is one of the largest in the country, has been the site of seven major outbreaks of violence linked to drug trafficking that have left more than 400 inmates dead since February 2021.

Authorities have been unable to prevent the brutal violence, which is often carried out with knives and has involved beheadings.

According to official estimates, the country's overcrowded prisons contain about 35,000 prisoners, many of them members of gangs linked to drug trafficking.

Bordered by Colombia and Peru, the world's largest cocaine producers, Ecuador serves as a departure port for drug shipments, primarily to the United States and Europe.

In 2021, Ecuador seized a record 210 tons of drugs, mostly cocaine.

Last year, the country of 17.7 million people had a murder rate of 14 per 100,000, nearly double that of 2020.

In a bid to improve the living conditions in Ecuador's prisons, President Guillermo Lasso launched the country's first inmate census in August.

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