Ecuador: President declares state of emergency following deadly prison riots

Officials in Ecuador say order has been restored at prisons in three cities, where authorities said at least 75 inmates died in riots between rival gangs.

President Lenín Moreno declared the national prison system in a state of emergency and ordered stepped-up security measures.   

Officials say authorities, with the assistance of an additional 800 police officers, gained control of the fighting within the detention centers at Guayaquil, Cuenca and Latacunga.

The president also ordered the Ministry of Defense to exercise strict gun, ammunition and explosives control in the surrounding areas of correctional facilities.. 

Edmundo Moncayo, the General Director of the National Service of Attention to People Deprived of Liberty (SNAI), said the inmate fights were set off when police carried out a search for weapons.

Moncayo said some prison staff were injured in the riots but none died.

Moncayo also said the vast majority of the country’s prison population lives in the centers where the violence occurred.

Among Ecuador’s roughly 38,000 inmates, confrontations among criminal groups often resulted in riots. In December, riots at several facilities left 11 people dead.