Ecuador claims complete control of prison where riot killed 68

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Ecuadoran police and soldiers took complete control Tuesday of a prison where riots between rival gangs left 68 dead over the weekend, the head of the prison system said.

After horrific violence that broke out Friday night and stretched into Saturday -- with inmates attacking each other with guns, machetes and explosives -- authorities had described the prison in the city of Guayaquil as quiet on Sunday.

Authorities have said the gangs that went after each other are tied to drug trafficking organizations.

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On Monday, a combined 1,000-strong security force started penetrating successive security perimeters around and inside the prison but had not yet entered the wings with the inmates' living quarters, or blocks.

On Tuesday police and soldiers finally did go into that part of the overcrowded penitentiary and took control.

The head of the prison system, Fausto Cobo, called the situation “under control.”

“We are intervening inside the blocks,” Cobo told reporters.

Another riot in the same prison in Ecuador's southwest in September left 119 dead -- making it the largest such massacre in the country's history, and one of the worst in Latin America.

More than 320 inmates have been killed so far in 2021, and the latest riot happened despite a state of emergency enforced in Ecuador's prison system after the riot in September.

Nestled between the world's biggest cocaine producers, Colombia and Peru, Ecuador has seen a surge of violence blamed on fighting between rival drug groups.

The country of 17.7 million people is popular with traffickers because of its porous borders, a dollarized economy and major seaports for export.

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