Guatemalan Prison Erupts in Gang Violence

By Patrick Falk
International News Writer

A violent prison riot broke out on Monday, November 30 in the town of Escuintla, about 37 miles south from the Capital. This Guatemalan jail in particular is notorious for prison riots and violence; however, the recent influx of inmates has only made matters worse for the prison guards and security forces sent to contain the issue.

The jail was originally intended for a max occupancy of approximately 600 inmates. In reality, the jail is home to over three thousand.

About 2,300 of these inmates entered into a standoff with five hundred security forces, as stated by Deputy Interior Minister Elmar Sosa. It was confirmed that some of these inmates are armed with weapons such as homemade weapons as well as guns, according to the BBC.

The number of overall casualties is still unknown, but there have been at least 17 inmates confirmed dead, as reported by Al Jazeera. Officials reported that seven of the deceased were decapitated, and that none of the fatal injuries were a result of gunfire.

The majority of the prison’s population is comprised of gang members from the streets of Guatemala, creating an environment that is often fraught with gang violence.

Prison spokesman Rudy Esquivel told Al Jazeera that the fight reportedly erupted between those belonging to the Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha gangs and other inmates who were not affiliated with the gangs.

Two thousand police were called in to retake control of the prison following the fight, while close to a hundred relatives waited outside of the morgue for the victims’ bodies to be released to them. Dozens more gathered outside of the prison in the course of the investigation, waiting for word on the deceased.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 8th print edition.

Contact Patrick at


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