Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, was shattered on Thursday, with the city experiencing a wave of violent events, including car bombings, grenade explosions, and prison uprisings. A bleak portrait of organized crime’s audacity emerges from the city’s chaos.
Reports from AFP detail that two car bombs were orchestrated specifically targeting the SNAI prison authority. The first explosion occurred outside the main headquarters of the SNAI, while the other rocked an establishment previously occupied by the same authority. As if these bombings weren’t unsettling enough, the city’s Mayor, Pabel Munoz, highlighted that three separate grenade detonations further marred the evening.
In a revealing update, General Pablo Ramirez, who heads anti-drug investigations for the police, divulged that one of the involved vehicles, a sedan, was rigged with a potent mix: two gas cylinders filled with fuel, a deliberately slow-burning fuse, and what looked like dynamite sticks. However, amidst the devastation, a sliver of positive news came through firefighters’ reports, which confirmed that these explosive incidents didn’t result in any casualties.
Prison Turmoil Linked to Organized Crime
On the heels of these attacks, an alarming incident transpired in six nationwide prisons. Convicts managed to overpower security, taking fifty prison guards and seven police officers hostage. This massive prison uprising is speculated to be a retaliation against a police operation from the previous day aimed at confiscating weapons from the inmates.
During a press conference in Quito, Interior Minister Juan Zapata voiced serious concerns about the safety of their officials amidst this upheaval.
Ecuador’s descent into the throes of violence is a relatively recent phenomenon. Traditionally considered a peaceful sanctuary between major cocaine producers, Colombia and Peru, the nation has gradually transformed into a hotspot for drug trafficking. Consequently, its prisons have turned into battlegrounds where rival gangs, many affiliated with powerful Colombian and Mexican cartels, frequently skirmish. Since 2021, these confrontations have culminated in the brutal deaths of over 430 inmates, often leaving behind ghastly scenes of charred and mutilated corpses.
In the aftermath of one of the grenade explosions, the police made notable arrests. Six individuals, among them a Colombian, were taken into custody. Their criminal rap sheets, as described by Ramirez, include extortion, robbery, and even murder. Ramirez further highlighted the flawed justice system, noting that three of these culprits had been apprehended just 15 days prior for truck theft and kidnapping but were released under certain conditions.