Security forces are seen outside the Bellavista prison
Watch: Inmates Break Windows And Start Fires During St. Louis Prison Riot Photo by Juan Carlos Perez/AFP via Getty Images

A prison riot in the Ecuadorian city of Santo Domingo on Monday resulted in the death of 12 prisoners. The prison agency said the latest deadly jail incident has left authorities with the gruesome task of identifying the dismembered bodies of the victims.

According to Al Jazeera, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said forensic anthropologists and doctors are conducting simultaneous autopsies of the bodies while a team of crime scene investigators gathers evidence and human remains. The teams have collected 45 different human parts in the penitentiary and confirmed the number of victims to be 12 instead of a previous count of 13. Police and armed forces who retook control of the facility said the incident stemmed from a dispute. Carrillo said the investigative process could take a number of days before a final report can be released.

The riot is the latest violent incident in Ecuador's prison system. The previous deadly incident in May at the Bellavista prison resulted in 43 casualties most of whom were stabbed to death. Authorities said the unrest may have been caused by a court order that required a new prison transfer of a gang leader at the facility. Carillo told reporters that 300 prisoners broke out during the melee, 108 of whom remain at large. Just last year, riots across Ecuador’s various prisons killed 316 inmates.

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso has put the blame for these deadly riots on rival gangs most likely connected with Mexico’s notorious drug cartels. Lasso was forced to declare a state of emergency in three provinces in April due to rising drug-related violence.

The SNAI, also known as Ecuador’s prison agency, announced the transfer of 15 inmates from Bellavista prison. They will be distributed to other detention centers to ensure their safety. As it is, Ecuador’s prison facilities house about 33,900 prisoners and are about 12.5% over their maximum capacity.

The government has pushed for a move to pardon around 2,000 inmates in a bid to reduce overcrowding. Lasso committed to efforts of implementing a gang pacification process to reduce prison violence which includes an early release for prisoners along with social and political reforms.

Relatives of inmates of the Bellavista prison
Relatives of inmates of the Bellavista prison, in the town of Santo Domingo de los Colorados, about 80 km from Quito, wait outside the morgue to learn the fate of their loved ones after 13 inmates were killed and two injured in a bloody fight between prisoners, on July 19, 2022. - Thirteen inmates were killed and two others injured on Monday in yet another bloody fight in a notorious Ecuadoran prison, law enforcement officials said. Prison officials, aided by the military and the police, were able to regain control of the facility, prison authority SNAI said. The incident took place at the same prison where 44 inmates were killed in a bloody brawl in May. Photo by Juan Carlos Perez/AFP via Getty Images

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