At least six inmates BEHEADED during Guatemala prison riot05/20/2021
At least six inmates are BEHEADED during brutal clashes between rival gangs in Guatemala prison
- Seven inmates were killed, most of them beheaded in the riot on Wednesday
- It broke out at the infamous Cantel prison on at around 16:00, police said
- The overcrowded jail houses inmates from both MS-13 and rival gang Barrio 18
- The killings are thought to be retaliation for an earlier incident, police said
At least seven inmates have been killed, most of them beheaded in clashes between rival gangs at a prison in western Guatemala.
Hundreds of police and the army were deployed to restore order at the Cantel prison, which houses inmates from both the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13) and their sworn enemies, The 18th Street Gang (Barrio 18).
‘Preliminarily, the death of seven inmates is known,’ the Ministry of the Interior said in a statement, describing the situation as a ‘riot’.
The figure was confirmed by the Prosecutor’s Office, whose staff managed to gain access to the prison, located 205 kilometres (125 miles) west of the capital in Quetzaltenango state.
At least seven inmates have been killed, most of them beheaded in clashes between rival gangs at a prison in western Guatemala. Pictured: Officers transport the corpse of an inmate out of the prison on Wednesday
The Cantel prison houses inmates from both the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13) and their sworn enemies, The 18th Street Gang (Barrio 18). Pictured: Body bags containing the remains of slain gang members
A spokesman for the National Civil Police (PNC), Jorge Aguilar, earlier told AFP news agency that the violence was caused by a confrontation between two gangs, and that at least six prisoners had been beheaded.
Authorities suspect one of the gangs attacked the other in retaliation for an incident that took place several days ago, Aguilar added without elaborating.
Police said the riot broke out at around 16:00 local time.
Video footage showed trails of blood on the ground leading out from the prison as police taped the scene off.
The Interior Ministry said it ‘regretted’ the incident and that it would coordinate with the police and the prosecutor’s office to enter the prison and investigate.
Guatemalan news site elperiodico.com.gt reported that a woman was killed in a separate incident in Quetzaltenango on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old Venezuelan was killed in an armed attack. She had been in a relationship with one of the gang members who was killed in the riot, according to firefighters.
The Interior Ministry said it ‘regretted’ the incident and that it would coordinate with the police and the prosecutor’s office to enter the prison and investigate. Pictured: Police enter the prison on Wednesday
Gang violence and riots are common at the Cantel prison, which has been condemned by human rights groups for its grim conditions.
Built to house five hundred inmates, it is currently home to over four times that number, police said.
Guatemala’s feared and violent gangs are known for their extortion rackets, in which they force businesspeople and bus operators to pay them protection money or face execution.
Gangs are responsible for nearly half of the 3,500 violent deaths a year in Guatemala, authorities have said – one of the highest death rates on earth.
Both MS-13 and Barrio 18 have their origins in Los Angeles but many members were deported to Central America following the end of the Salvadorean Civil War or after arrest.
In Central America, their influence and brutality has escalated dramatically, driving huge numbers of people to flee their communities, many of whom attempt to make the journey to the United States.
Hundreds of police and the army were deployed to restore order following the riot, which began at 16:00. Pictured: Soldiers arrive at Cantel prison
Gangs are responsible for nearly half of the 3,500 violent deaths a year in Guatemala, authorities have said – one of the highest death rates on earth. Pictured: Authorities outside Cantel prison
Barrio 18 began in the 1960s as an offshoot of Clanton 14, one of the oldest Hispanic criminal organisations in Los Angeles.
It expanded by accepting members from different races and ethnicities and is now thought to have between 30,000 to 50,000 members throughout the US, Mexico and Central America.
MS-13 was originally founded to protect Salvadoreans from other Latino gangs. It is thought to have between 50,000 and 70,000 members globally and is known for its violence.
Members of both gangs can be identified by distinctive tattoos.
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