His death comes just days after the United States government suspended up to five million dollars as a reward to anyone who provides information about the mastermind of the murder of the politician.
The six prisoners who died on Friday in the Litoral prison, Ecuador’s largest prison, correspond to the six Colombians accused of participating in the assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio .
The National Service for Integral Attention to Persons Deprived of Their Liberty (SNAI), the state agency responsible for the protection and management of Ecuadorian prisons, confirmed the identity of the bodies after the prosecutor’s office and the police entered the prison to pick up the bodies and subsequently identify them.
These six men were allegedly the main perpetrators of the murder of Villavicencio, along with a seventh of the same nationality, who was the assassin who fired the shots at the candidate and who died moments later, apparently as a result of the injuries sustained by the shots fired by the security personnel. security that protected the politician.
His death comes just days after the United States government suspended up to five million dollars as a reward to anyone who provides information about the mentor who ordered Villavicencio’s life.
The dead were in pavilion 7 of the prison, which is officially called Guaya’s number 1 detention center and is located in the city of Guayaquil, with a dozen pavilions controlled by various criminal groups, where about 5, 700 people are detained.
The warning about the death of the alleged killers of Villavicencio had previously been raised by the civic platform SOS Ccteles Ecuador, which classified it as a murder and reported that the six Colombians had requested a transfer to a safer prison.
According to reports from prison guards quoted by SOS Ccteles Ecuador, the bodies of the murdered prisoners “show no signs of torture or injuries resulting from a fight.”
Ecuador’s most violent prison
The Littoral Prison is the largest internment camp in the Guayaquil prison complex, out of five prisons where about 12,300 people are incarcerated.
Also in the prison, the most numerous massacres in the series of massacres have been recorded, in which more than 400 prisoners have been murdered in the Ecuadorian prison system since 2020 , mainly due to clashes between rival criminal gangs.
Recently, the police and the Armed Forces were able to enter the pavilions in a series of operations during which they seized a large number of weapons in the possession of prisoners, including rifles, pistols, grenades, grenade launchers and explosives, as well as numerous melee weapons and other items prohibited in the prison.
The six Colombians were part of the thirteen cases in the investigation of the murder of Villavicencio, which took place on August 9 after a political demonstration in Quito, when there were only eleven days left before the first round of extraordinary elections. .
A month later, seven more people were arrested, including four in the prisons of El Inca in Quito and Latacunga in Cotopaxi, controlled by the criminal gang Los Lobos, because, according to the Public Ministry, they had had communications with the group of Colombians in the days before Villavicencio’s assassination.
Lasso convenes security Cabinet
The news prompted Ecuador’s conservative president Guillermo Lasso to travel to New York for personal reasons , but he said on social media that he was returning to the country and had summoned his government’s security office.
“Neither complicity nor cover-up, the truth will be known here,” Lasso said, trying to dispel the suspicion that arose after this news, when the six Colombians died in state custody.
When he had not yet confirmed the identity of the bodies, the former president Rafael Correa (2007-2017) declared without hesitation that “if they are the killers of Villavicencio, (this) confirms that the government is behind the crime”, a theory that has persisted since the death of the journalist and former deputy, who was a staunch political enemy of the former president.
The murder of Villavicencio has raised the wave of violence attributed to organized crime to an unprecedented level, which has made Ecuador one of the most violent countries in the world in recent years , with a rate of 25,32 intentional homicides in 2022, the highest since records began.