May 25, 2024
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By Yalilé Loaiza

Police anti-explosive units detonated the device Unmanned drones with explosives were landed by a sophisticated drone on top of La Roca prison, located in Guayaquil. Police carried out controlled explosions that caused damage to the roof.

Prisoners were moved to Regional prison, which is located next to Litoral. Fito alias, the leader of Los Choneros, was incarcerated in maximum security just a few short days prior to the drone alert.

A court ordered that he be transferred to the Regional Prison where he could live under its control and with certain privileges. Alias Fito spent 27 days in La Roca.

In that same prison, you will also find some criminal gang leaders as well as six of the suspects of the murder of Fernando Villavicencio.

In his X report, the Minister of Interior Juan Zapata explained that the explosive drone was meant to be transported to the maximum-security prison. Willian Villarroel is the general commander for Zone 8 and he confirmed that the alert was received at 5 am on the morning of September 12th.

The agent said that the protocols for evacuation were immediately activated, and personnel from the tactical units performed a controlled explosion. First, the evacuation took place and then a command center was established.

General Villaroel stated that his units were investigating the path taken by the drone. Criminalistics agents also collected evidence on the scene. Primicias estimates that the drone was worth USD 20,000, and its explosive could have been remotely detonated.

Commander Villaroel stated that it was “improvised explosive”. The Comprehensive Care Service in charge of prisons reported that no one had been injured and they were assessing the damages to the infrastructure.

The Regional Jail was also closed to visitors to ensure the safety of administrative and security staff. It is not the only time drones have caused incidents in prisons. In 2012, explosive-laden drones targeted the Regional Prison.

The prison was the place where alias Fito and alias JR, who were both killed in Colombia this year, served their sentences. During the attack, roof damage was also caused. Fausto Cobos, the director of prisons at the time, claimed that the assault was motivated by an international conflict of drug trafficking groups: “A settlement of scores” between the gangs.

Drones are not a new invention. The police in Ecuador have stated that gangs are copying this method to use it elsewhere, such as Colombia. In March 2021 in a Colombian jail, agents of security reported that drones dropped packages containing drugs, guns and mobile phones.

In May, Chilean Gendarmes stopped two drones from transporting marijuana, cocaine base paste, and methamphetamines to a prison in the country. According to the Ecuadorian Police, in July, three drones equipped with the latest technology belonged to an international drug trafficking ring.

These devices were intended to transport weapons and cocaine into the Litoral Penitentiary in Ecuador, which is the most violent prison.

Darwin Sangoquiza of Anti-Narcotics, Guayaquil, said that the Police National intervened to prevent the drones from entering the prison. These devices, as well as the alerts sent to prisons, adds to the frequent incidents in Ecuadorian prisons. More than 400 prisoners have been killed in the prison crisis in just two years.

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