Soldiers and police officers marched into the largest prison, Litoral, near Guayaquil, where there are 12 prison blocks, as part of a two-day operation. Its goal is to bring under control organized crime, which has been rampant in the prisons there in recent years. You can read more about it in this article.
Security forces searched the cells for contraband. Footage from the correctional facility taken on Thursday shows hundreds of inmates lying on the ground waiting to be lined up – while soldiers search their cells. And they were successful – they found money, phones, chargers, but also weapons, ammunition, grenades and drugs, writes the AP agency. According to her, the armed forces have already carried out eight raids in the Litoral prison this year.
The Litoral prison, like other penitentiaries in the country, is overcrowded, there are over 5,500 prisoners, and it has long suffered from a lack of staff. There have been several bloody riots there in the past, for example in July one of them killed over 30 people.
In contrast to neighboring countries, Ecuador has long avoided significant problems with drug cartels. In the last few years, however, the situation has worsened, as cartels from Colombia and Mexico have penetrated the country.
The country is sandwiched between Colombia and Peru, which are among the largest producers of cocaine in the world. Ecuadorian ports have thus become a major transshipment point, from where drugs go to North America or Europe.