Five Prisoners Killed in Cell Block Brawl Between Rival Gangs

At least five inmates have died after a riot erupted at a prison in Ecuador.

Tensions between rival criminal groups escalated inside the Centro de Rehabilitación Social Cotopaxi in Latacunga on Tuesday afternoon, local media reports.

The violence broke out around 5 p.m. in the minimum security prison, according to a statement issued by the National Service of Comprehensive Attention to Adults Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders (SNAI).

The prison authority attributed the riot to an ongoing power dispute between "Mexican gangs" and other prisoners.

Ecuador prison
Five inmates have died after a riot erupted at the Centro de Rehabilitación Social Cotopaxi in Latacunga, Ecuador. Google Maps

#SNAI_Zona1 AHORA | El @SNAI_Ec, mediante la coordinación con Unidades Tácticas de @PoliciaEcuador, realiza un operativo de control ante amotinamiento suscitado en el #CPLCotopaxi N° 1.#SeguridadPenitenciaria pic.twitter.com/2qHXTSf3pR

— Servicio Integral Ecuador (@SNAI_Ec) December 16, 2020

Police from the Order Maintenance Unit and Penitentiary Security Agents were able to restore control of the prison by around midnight, according to Ecuador's national police authority.

Prison director Patricio Limaico confirmed five inmates died as a result of knife attacks, El Telegrafo reported.

A prison security officer was also injured in the incident and has since been taken to hospital.

Local journalist Holguer Guerrero tweeted a photo of the five inmates suspected of being killed alongside the caption "the prisoners killed," as translated by Google Translate. However, there has been no official announcement made in relation to the deaths.

"The lack of personnel from the Penitentiary Security and Surveillance Corps hinders immediate response actions to lessen the riots," a statement from the SNA read, as translated by Google Translate.

INFORMAMOS 🚨

Ante amotinamiento en el #CPLCotopaxi, unidades de @PoliciaEcuador y Agentes de Seguridad Penitenciaria restablecieron el control y orden.

📌No se reportaron fugas de los privados de la libertad.
#TrabajamosPorTuSeguridad pic.twitter.com/sEiNaYyro0

— Policía Ecuador (@PoliciaEcuador) December 16, 2020

Se reporta presunto Amotinamiento en cárcel de Latacunga. Existirían muertos. Autoridades intentan controlar el levantamiento. Aún todo en verificación. pic.twitter.com/VmojLDIl8C

— Jonnathan Carrera (@jcarreraandrade) December 16, 2020

Multiple riots have been reported in prisons across the world, some of which have been linked to the chaos and confusion caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In April, more than 100 inmates at a facility in Washington state created a disturbance over an outbreak of COVID-19 in a low-security wing.

Prisoners began to demonstrate in the recreation yard at Monroe Correctional Complex, setting off fire extinguishers.

Pepper spray, sting balls and rubber pellets were used to bring the situation under control, the state department of corrections said. There were no injuries to inmates or staff.

Pepper spray, sting balls and rubber pellets were used to bring the situation under control, the state department of corrections said. There were no injuries to inmates or staff.

In August, two prison guards and three inmates were injured after a riot broke out at the Ware State Prison in Georgia. In November, hundreds of inmates at a prison in Arizona were involved in a riot, with corrections officers using "non-lethal munitions to gain compliance."

One prisoner told local media in an email that "tear gas, flash bangs [and] pepper spray" had been used to contain the disturbance.

Judy Keane, director of communications at the Arizona Department of Corrections, said no injuries among staff or inmates had been reported and an investigation had been launched.

She added that "several hundred inmates grouped together around staff and refused to disperse," but declined to offer a possible motive for the disorder.

"The Designated Armed Response Team and Tactical Support Unit responded to the incident and deployed non-lethal munitions to gain inmates' compliance with instructions and secure the inmates inside their dorms," Keane said in a statement. "At no point was public safety jeopardized."

Local radio station KJZZ quoted an inmate as saying: "They came in with tear gas, flash bangs, pepper spray and started shooting them at everyone. It was basically a war zone."

KJZZ added that inmates had recently complained about conditions inside the prison.