September 24, 2023

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Gang members in a girls’s jail in Honduras slaughtered 46 different girls inmates by spraying them with gunfire, hacking them with machetes after which locking survivors of their cells and dousing them with flammable liquid, an official mentioned Wednesday.

The carnage in Tuesday’s riot was the worst atrocity at a girls’s jail in latest reminiscence, one thing President Xiomara Castro known as “monstrous.”

Relations mentioned inmates on the facility had been threatened for weeks by members of the infamous Barrio 18 gang.

Chillingly, the gang members have been in a position to arm themselves with prohibited weapons, brush previous guards and assault; they even carried locks to close their victims inside, apparently to burn them to demise. The depth of the fireplace left the partitions of the cells blackened and beds diminished to twisted heaps of steel.

“A gaggle of armed folks went to the cellblock of a rival gang, locked the doorways, opened fireplace on them,” mentioned Juan López Rochez, the chief of operations for the nation’s Nationwide Police.

Miguel Martínez, a safety ministry spokesman, mentioned the assault was taped by safety cameras, up to date the gang members destroyed them in what he known as a “deliberate” assault.

“You possibly can see the second by which the ladies overcome the guards, leaving them helpless, and take their keys,” Martínez mentioned.

Castro mentioned Tuesday’s riot on the jail within the city of Tamara, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Honduras’ capital, was “deliberate by maras (avenue gangs) with the data and acquiescence of safety authorities.”

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Castro fired Safety Minister Ramón Sabillón, and changed him with Gustavo Sánchez, who had been serving as head of the Nationwide Police.

However Castro however didn’t clarify how inmates recognized as members of the Barrio 18 gang have been in a position to get weapons and machetes into the jail, or transfer freely into an adjoining cell block. Preliminary stories instructed the doorways to the gang’s cell block had been left open, facilitating the assault.

The quantity of weaponry discovered within the jail after the riot was spectacular: 18 pistols, an assault rifle, two machine pistols and two grenades — all of which have been smuggled into the jail.

“Clearly, there should have been human failures,” López Rochez mentioned. “We’re investigating all the workers on the heart.”

Sandra Rodríguez Vargas, the assistant commissioner for Honduras’ jail system, mentioned the attackers “eliminated” guards on the facility — none appeared to have been injured — round 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Twenty-six of the victims have been burned to demise and the rest shot or stabbed, mentioned Yuri Mora, the spokesman for Honduras’ nationwide police investigation company. No less than seven inmates have been being handled at a Tegucigalpa hospital.

The riot’s demise toll surpassed that of a hearth at a feminine detention heart in Guatemala in 2017, when ladies at a shelter for troubled youths set fireplace to mattresses to protest rapes and different mistreatment on the overcrowded establishment. The smoke and fireplace killed 41 ladies.

The worst jail catastrophe in a century additionally occurred in Honduras, in 2012, on the Comayagua males’s penitentiary, the place 361 male inmates died in a hearth probably attributable to a match, cigarette or another open flame.

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There have been ample warnings forward of Tuesday’s tragedy, in line with Johanna Paola Soriano Euceda, who was ready outdoors the morgue in Tegucigalpa for information about her mom, Maribel Euceda, and sister, Karla Soriano. Each have been on trial for drug trafficking however have been held in the identical space as convicted prisoners.

Soriano Euceda mentioned they’d informed her Sunday that “they (Barrio 18 members) have been uncontrolled, they have been combating with them on a regular basis. That was the final time we talked.”

One other girl, who didn’t need to give her identify for concern of reprisals, mentioned she was ready for information a couple of buddy, Alejandra Martínez, 26, who was been held within the ill-fated Cell Block One on theft prices.

“She informed me the final time I noticed her on Sunday that the (Barrio) 18 folks had threatened them, that they have been going to kill them in the event that they didn’t flip over a relative,” she mentioned.

Gangs generally demand victims “flip over” a buddy or relative by giving the gang their identify, tackle and outline, in order that enforcers can later discover and kidnap, rob or kill them.

Officers described the killings as a “terrorist act,” but additionally acknowledged that gangs primarily had dominated some elements of the jail.

Julissa Villanueva, head of the jail system, instructed the riot began due to latest makes an attempt by authorities to crack down on illicit exercise inside jail partitions and known as Tuesday’s violence a response to strikes “we’re taking towards organized crime.”

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“We won’t again down,” Villanueva mentioned in a televised tackle after the riot.

Gangs wield broad management contained in the nation’s prisons, the place inmates usually set their very own guidelines and promote prohibited items.

They have been additionally apparently in a position to smuggle in weapons and different weapons, a recurring downside in Honduran prisons.

“The problem is to forestall folks from smuggling in medication, grenades and firearms,” mentioned Honduran human rights knowledgeable Joaquin Mejia. “Immediately’s occasions present that they haven’t been ready to try this.”

In the meantime, the grim job continued of making an attempt to establish the our bodies, some terribly burned. Officers on Wednesday started turning over a number of the corpses to households for burial.

The anticipate information was torture for a lot of households of inmates. Dozens of anxious, indignant relations gathered outdoors the agricultural jail.

“We’re right here dying of anguish, of ache … we don’t have any info,” mentioned Salomón García, whose daughter is an inmate on the facility.

Tuesday’s riot might enhance the strain on Honduras to emulate the drastic zero-tolerance, no-privileges prisons set in up in neighboring El Salvador by President Nayib Bukele. Whereas El Salvador’s crackdown on gangs has given rise to rights violations, it has additionally proved immensely standard in a rustic lengthy terrorized by avenue gangs.


Related Press writers Elmer Martínez in Tamara, Honduras, and Maria Verza and Mark Stevenson in Mexico Metropolis contributed to this report.