At least 15 inmates have died and 21 injured in a prison fight in central Ecuador, authorities said on Tuesday.
The inmates fought late Monday with guns and knives before guards regained control of the prison in Latacunga, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the nation’s capital of Quito.
Media reports said among those killed in a shootout was Leandro Norero, alias “El Patrón,” accused of leading a drug trafficking gang. He was captured in May with $6.4 million, 24 gold bars and weapons.
The fight began when inmates participated in a census to collect data on the nation’s prison population, deputy director of the prison authority, Jorge Flores, said in a statement to reporters.
When the violence began, police entered to try to retake control of the prison, while teams of military personnel guarded the surrounding area.
Images captured by drivers along a road near the prison showed inmates taking refuge on the roof of the building to try to escape the violence.
Families of inmates are demanding information about the fight.
With the victims Monday, the number of prisoners killed in Ecuador’s prisons since the beginning of 2022 is nearing 100.
Since February 2021, there have been nearly one dozen prison massacres in Ecuador with 400 inmates killed. The worst fight took place in the port city of Guayaquil last September when more than 120 inmates died.
Prisons in Ecuador have become the most dangerous in Latin America because of increasing violence between criminal gangs linked to drug trafficking. The gangs are waging a war for power inside the facilities.
In police searches following confrontations, authorities have found firearms, including rifles, as well as knives and large quantities of bullets.
Several officers have been arrested for being involved in arms trafficking crimes.
Source: Anadolu Agency