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Car bomb explodes in front of the Guayaquil regional prison

Published on April 26, 2022

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It happened at half past three in the morning. It is the third bombing in 2022.

The terror of organized crime networks hammers insistently in Guayaquil, which has become one of the most violent cities in the world. Adding fuel to this statement, at half past three in the morning on Monday, April 25, 2022, a car bomb exploded in front of the Guayas Zone 8 Social Rehabilitation Center, known as the Guayas regional prison.

This prison—one of the five that make up the Guayaquil prison complex—located at kilometer 16.5 of the road to Daule, holds criminal leaders such as Adolfo Macías Villamar, alias Fito, who is seeking to seize power in Ecuadorian prisons for the Los Choneros gang.

Junior Roldán, alias JR, believed to be second in command of Los Choneros, was also held there before he was granted a habeas corpus judgement and released to house arrest—even though he was convicted of murdering two people.

The vehicle exploded in the middle of the small food and handicraft businesses that crowd in front of the regional prison, consumed, for the most part, by families visiting prisoners in the complex. At that time, the premises were empty.

According to police records, a person drove the vehicle to the vicinity of the jail. After leaving it, he got on a motorcycle, where another man was waiting for him, and they escaped in the middle of the early morning darkness. The car was a light lead colored Chevrolet Aveo with the license plate GSX 3364.

It was completely destroyed in the blast. Its front and rear doors, as well as window glass and lights, exploded and the pieces of them reached the outer structure of the prison. Although it did not damage the infrastructure of the jail, it did destroy and reduce to rubble the entrance of a food business – a small house with a tin roof.

Several prison officers and members of the Police surrounded the perimeter of the detonation to look for evidence. As of 8:00 a.m. Monday, no injuries were reported.

A prison system in utter turmoil

It is not the first time that detonations have been reported in the Guayaquil prison complex.

Since 2019, when the violence began to intensify on the eve of the five prison massacres recorded between 2021 and 2022, the explosions in the prison system have ceased to be isolated events. Other events now make things like car bombs seem almost unimportant.

Last week, a judge allowed Roldán, one of the leaders of the Los Choneros and its sub-cells Los Águilas and Los Fatales, so that he could “temporarily” serve his sentence in his house in the agrarian city of El Triunfo. Since then, there have been at least 50 arrests of alleged members of his enemy gangs, Los Lobos, Los Tiguerones and Los Chone Killers.

In fact, tension has grown in Guayaquil prisons since soccer player Gabriel Cortez was transferred to the Litoral Penitentiary, while investigations continue into his possible link with Los Tiguerones, a drug gang with a greater presence in poor neighborhoods of Esmeraldas.

The detonation at the regional jail is one of three documented this year. It happened two days after an explosive device placed in the bottom of a prison officer’s truck was detonated on the night of Saturday, April 23.

And a month ago, at 9:30 on the morning of March 20th, another explosion occurred in front of the regional prison. According to police records, it was —like Monday’s incident— two motorists who launched an explosive device that left three people injured.

Update: This story has been updated to report on a clash in the El Inca prison that left at least 15 injured on Monday afternoon.

Just seven hours after a car bomb exploded in front of the Guayaquil regional prison, a confrontation in the El Inca prison, in the north of Quito, left at least 15 injured.

The confrontation was between the Los Lobos gang and members of the Latin Kings, an urban gang that turned into a criminal organization, according to experts. It started at ten in the morning and ended at almost two in the afternoon.

Colonel Enrique Bautista, police commander of the Metropolitan District of Quito, confirmed that 14 people are stable and have minor injuries. They were attended by medical personnel from El Inca. One prisoner was transferred to a hospital as he has some injuries to his tendons. But, so far, he has no health complications, said Bautista.

A strong police and military contingent were stationed outside the prison. Another entered the prison, where dozens of prisoners sat on the floor, with their hands on their heads, as a sign of surrender. Little by little, the inmates returned to their cells, while a group of police agents from the Special Operations Group (GOE) carried out a quick search.

They found several prohibited items. Among them, at least twenty large knives, metal tubes, hammers, cell phones and phone chargers.

Not the first violent incident in El Inca

On February 22 of this year, there was a confrontation between the same criminal gangs, confined in two different wings of the prison. That day there were no injuries reported.

The same thing happened four months earlier, on September 16, 2021.

That day, two prisoners began fighting in a pavilion known as Guerreros de Luz. Then more inmates joined the confrontation, which culminated in the burning of several mattresses in the central courtyard of the prison. One prisoner was injured with a knife.

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