In a significant development in Ecuador’s escalating security crisis, all 178 prison officials taken hostage by inmates have been released, as confirmed by the country’s prisons authority, SNAI, on Saturday. The situation, which began on Monday, involved 158 guards and 20 administrative staff members being held captive across several detention centers.
This crisis unfolded as the Ecuadorian army and police conducted raids in detention centers located in six cities, including the large Guayaquil prison complex, where five inmates managed to escape on Friday. The successful operation to free the hostages was lauded by President Daniel Noboa, who praised the “patriotic, professional, and courageous work” of the armed forces, national police, and SNAI. The operation spanned detention centers in Azuay, Canar, Esmeraldas, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, El Oro, and Loja.
In a broader context, Ecuador has faced a severe uptick in gang violence, with the presidency reporting the arrest of nearly 900 individuals since Tuesday in a national security operation. Notably, 94 of the 859 detainees are identified as members of what the government labels as “terrorist” groups. This wave of violence, which includes explosions, police kidnappings, and prison disturbances, was triggered by the escape of a high-profile drug lord from prison last weekend, further destabilizing the already volatile situation.