Four inmates found dead in riot-hit Ecuador prison

Quito (AFP) –


Four inmates were found dead Thursday at the same Ecuadorian prison where 119 prisoners were killed in the country's deadliest inmate riot two weeks ago, the prison authority said.

The SNAI national prison service said on Twitter that the deaths were the result of "alleged suicide."

The prison service added that "security protocols" had been activated at the penitentiary in the southern coastal city of Guayaquil after the bodies were found at dawn.

Two suitcases filled with ammunition were also found in the same prison during a separate search, the police said.

Rival gangs linked to Mexican drug cartels -- notably the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation groups -- went to war with guns and grenades in the prison complex two weeks ago.

Some of the dead inmates had been decapitated and others torched.

So far in 2021, prison riots have left 238 inmates dead, according to official figures.

In February, simultaneous riots broke out in four separate prisons, leaving 79 inmates dead.

The Guayaquil riot in September led President Guillermo Lasso to declare a state of emergency in the prison system and send 3,600 police and soldiers to help patrol and maintain security in the country's 65 facilities.

Ecuador's prisons are overpopulated by 30 percent, with 39,000 inmates held in facilities that only have a capacity for 30,000.