HAVANA, January 10. /TASS/. At least 139 prison guards are still being held hostage by members of criminal gangs following jail riots in Ecuador, the country’s penitentiary service said.
"At present, operations continue and security protocols are still in force in penitentiary facilities Azuay N· 1, Ca·ar N· 2, Napo N· 1, Tungurahua N· 1 and Cotopaxi N· 1, where 125 security guards and 14 members of administrative personnel are being held hostage," the authority said on the X social network, formerly known as Twitter.
Riots in the four Ecuadorian prisons broke out on January 8, the day after the office of the country’s attorney general said it was investigating a possible prison escape by Fito, the leader of the los Choneros criminal gang. He disappeared from the penitentiary facility shortly before his transfer to a maximum security prison.
Over the past few years, Ecuador has been experiencing a surge of criminal violence. The country’s authorities had to declare a 60-day state of emergency in all of the country’s prisons in last July due to several unrests that broke out on the same day. On August 10, 2023, the nationwide state of emergency was declared following the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio. A few days before his death, the politician said he was receiving death threats from Fito.