Prison guards at a violence-plagued penitentiary complex in Ecuador’s largest city on Wednesday found six inmates hanged, prison authorities said.
The SNAI prison administration authority told AFP the six bodies were found in their cells at the jail in the southwestern port city of Guayaquil, which is plagued with drug trafficking-related violence.
The Guayaquil prison complex has been the site of Ecuador’s worst jail massacres in recent years caused by gang rivalries.
The bodies were found “while checking the pavilions,” SNAI said in a statement.
Authorities did not say whether the inmates’ bodies showed any signs of violence, nor whether they belonged to gangs.
The grisly discovery comes a day after around 30 gunmen opened fire at a fishing port in northwestern Ecuador, killing nine, in an attack Interior Minister Juan Zapata blamed on a territorial fight between gangs.
The hanged inmates were found in pavilion number five of the Guayas 1 prison, which houses 6,800 inmates and is part of the massive penitentiary complex.
Local media have reported that the pavilion is controlled by a gang known as Las Aguilas (the eagles), which extorts other prisoners.
Both Guayaquil and the northwestern Esmeraldas province where Tuesday’s attack took place have been hard hit by a surge in violence in Ecuador.
On March 3, President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in Guayaquil and Esmeraldas.
Since February 2021, there have been eight prison massacres in which more than 400 inmates have been killed, many dismembered or burned.
Gangs that vie for control of the lucrative trafficking trade have often controlled operations from within the prison system.