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QUITO: At least one person was killed and four injured in an overnight prison revolt in Ecuador’s port city of Guayaquil, at the same facility from which one of the country’s most feared gang leaders escaped in January, the government said Thursday.

Deputy security minister Lyonel Calderon said the toll was provisional pending a “complete review of the entire penitentiary center,” located in a city which has become a dangerous hub for the export of cocaine from neighboring countries.

“The situation is completely under control,” he told the Teleamazonas broadcaster.

In January, the Guayaquil regional prison came under the spotlight after Adolfo “Fito” Macias, leader of one of the country’s most powerful gangs, escaped from the jail. He remains on the loose.

After the escape, President Daniel Noboa imposed a state of emergency — which has been extended until April — and declared war on the gangs that have sunk their claws into the country. The narcos retaliated in a wave of violence that saw dozens of kidnappings and left around 20 people dead.

The government has deployed soldiers to retake control of the country’s prisons, which had become the nerve center — and battleground — for gangs linked to Mexican and Colombian cartels.

Since 2021, more than 460 inmates have been killed in brutal gang wars behind bars.

Wednesday’s riot was the first since Noboa took office in November. AFP reporters heard gunshots and saw fires spreading inside the prison, one of four that make up a vast penitentiary complex in Guayaquil.

Once considered a bastion of peace in Latin America, Ecuador has been plunged into crisis by the rapid spread of transnational cartels that use its ports to ship drugs to the United States and Europe.

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