Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Dozens of Women Inmates Slaughtered in Honduran Prison, Officials Say
By admin
Published 12 months ago on
June 21, 2023

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Inmates had complained for weeks they were being threatened by gang members at a women’s prison in Honduras. The gang fulfilled those threats, slaughtering 41 women, many of them burned, shot or stabbed to death.

President Xiomara Castro said Tuesday’s riot at the prison in the town of Tamara, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Honduras’ capital, was “planned by maras (street gangs) with the knowledge and acquiescence of security authorities.”

Castro pledged to take “drastic measures,” but did not explain how inmates identified as members of the Barrio 18 gang were able to get guns and machetes into the prison, or move freely into an adjoining cell block and slaughter all the prisoners there.

Video clips presented by the government from inside the prison showed several pistols and a heap of machetes and other bladed weapons that were found after the riot.

Sandra Rodríguez Vargas, the assistant commissioner for Honduras’ prison system, said the attackers “removed” guards at the facility — none appeared to have been injured — around 8 a.m. Tuesday and then opened the gates to an adjoining cell block and began massacring women there. They started a fire that left cell walls blacked and bunks reduced to twisted heaps of metal.

Twenty-six of the victims were burned to death and the remainder shot or stabbed, said Yuri Mora, the spokesman for Honduras’ national police investigation agency. At least seven inmates were being treated at a Tegucigalpa hospital.

The riot appears to be the deadliest at a female detention center in Central America since 2017, when girls at a shelter for troubled youths in Guatemala set fire to mattresses to protest rapes and other mistreatment at the overcrowded institution. The smoke and fire killed 41 girls.

The worst prison disaster in a century also occurred in Honduras, in 2012 at the Comayagua penitentiary, where 361 inmates died in a fire possibly caused by a match, cigarette or some other open flame.

There were ample warnings ahead of Tuesday’s tragedy, according to Johanna Paola Soriano Euceda, who was waiting outside the morgue in Tegucigalpa for news about her mother, Maribel Euceda, and sister, Karla Soriano. Both were on trial for drug trafficking but were held in the same area as convicted prisoners.

Soriano Euceda said they had told her Sunday that “they (Barrio 18 members) were out of control, they were fighting with them all the time. That was the last time we talked.”

Another woman, who did not want to give her name for fear of reprisals, said she was waiting for news about a friend, Alejandra Martínez, 26, who was been held in the ill-fated Cell Block One on robbery charges.

“She told me the last time I saw her on Sunday that the (Barrio) 18 people had threatened them, that they were going to kill them if they didn’t turn over a relative,” she said.

Gangs sometimes demand victims “turn over” a friend or relative by giving the gang their name, address and description, so that enforcers can later find and kidnap, rob or kill them.

Gangs Rule Inside Prisons

Officials described the killings as a “terrorist act,” but also acknowledged that gangs essentially had ruled some parts of the prison.

Julissa Villanueva, head of the prison system, suggested the riot started because of recent attempts by authorities to crack down on illicit activity inside prison walls and called Tuesday’s violence a reaction to moves “we are taking against organized crime.”

“We will not back down,” Villanueva said in a televised address after the riot.

Gangs wield broad control inside the country’s prisons, where inmates often set their own rules and sell prohibited goods.

They were also apparently able to smuggle in guns and other weapons, a recurring problem in Honduran prisons.

“The issue is to prevent people from smuggling in drugs, grenades and firearms,” said Honduran human rights expert Joaquin Mejia. “Today’s events show that they have not been able to do that.”

Meanwhile, the grim task continued of trying to identify the bodies, some terribly burned.

“The forensic teams that are removing bodies confirm they have counted 41,” said Mora.

The wait for news was torture for many families of inmates. Dozens of anxious, angry relatives gathered outside the rural prison.

“We are here dying of anguish, of pain … we don’t have any information,” said Salomón García, whose daughter is an inmate at the facility.

Azucena Martinez, whose daughter was also being held at the prison, said “there are a lot of dead, 41 already. We don’t know if our relatives are also in there, dead.”

Tuesday’s riot may increase the pressure on Honduras to emulate the drastic zero-tolerance, no-privileges prisons set in up in neighboring El Salvador by President Nayib Bukele. While El Salvador’s crackdown on gangs has given rise to rights violations, it has also proved immensely popular in a country long terrorized by street gangs.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

On Juneteenth, Freedom Came With Strings Attached

DON'T MISS

California Should Fight the Ticketmaster Monopoly, Not Embolden It

DON'T MISS

Willie Mays, Giants’ Legendary ‘Say Hey Kid,’ Dies at 93

DON'T MISS

Balderrama Applies for Texas Police Chief Job

DON'T MISS

California Fines Amazon Nearly $6M, Alleging Illegal Work Quotas at 2 Warehouses

DON'T MISS

Nvidia’s Stock Market Value Topped $3.3 Trillion. How It Became No. 1 in the S&P 500, by the Numbers

DON'T MISS

Two Fresnans Defrauded a Mentally Ill Man out of Millions. First Sentencing Comes Down.

DON'T MISS

California Governor Wants to Restrict Smartphone Usage in Schools

DON'T MISS

Fresno Trustees Prepare for Votes on $2.1 Billion Budget, $500M Bond Measure

DON'T MISS

Fresno Garbage Rate Hike Vote on Thursday. Where Does Council Stand?

UP NEXT

Colorado LGBTQ+ Club Shooter Pleads Guilty to 50 Federal Hate Crimes

UP NEXT

American Leaders Should Stop Debasing Themselves on Israel

UP NEXT

Singer Justin Timberlake Arrested and Accused of DUI on New York’s Long Island

UP NEXT

After Delay, Top Democrats in Congress Sign Off on Sale of F-15 Jets to Israel

UP NEXT

Convicted Killer of California College Student Kristin Smart Ordered to Pay $350K in Restitution

UP NEXT

120 MPH Chase Ends in Arrest of Fresno Man Emulating Online Videos for ‘Fun’

UP NEXT

Secret Service Agent Robbed at Gunpoint During Biden’s Los Angeles Trip, Police Say

UP NEXT

Carnage and Contradiction: Examining a Deadly Strike in Rafah

UP NEXT

Major Mexican Cartel Drug Ring Busted by Valley Agents

UP NEXT

Feds Bust Mexican Cartel That Smuggled Drugs to Valley in Veggie Boxes, Gas Tanks

Balderrama Applies for Texas Police Chief Job

14 hours ago

California Fines Amazon Nearly $6M, Alleging Illegal Work Quotas at 2 Warehouses

15 hours ago

Nvidia’s Stock Market Value Topped $3.3 Trillion. How It Became No. 1 in the S&P 500, by the Numbers

15 hours ago

Two Fresnans Defrauded a Mentally Ill Man out of Millions. First Sentencing Comes Down.

16 hours ago

California Governor Wants to Restrict Smartphone Usage in Schools

16 hours ago

Fresno Trustees Prepare for Votes on $2.1 Billion Budget, $500M Bond Measure

16 hours ago

Fresno Garbage Rate Hike Vote on Thursday. Where Does Council Stand?

16 hours ago

Palestinian Supporters Hang ‘Stop the Genocide’ Banner on El Capitan in Yosemite Protest

17 hours ago

California Business & Labor Hammer Out a Deal on Workplace Violation Lawsuits

19 hours ago

How the Teamsters and a Homegrown Union Plan to Take On Amazon

19 hours ago

On Juneteenth, Freedom Came With Strings Attached

Opinion by Charles M. Blow on June 18, 2024. Last week at a Juneteenth concert on the South Lawn of the White House, Vice President Kamala H...

15 mins ago

15 mins ago

On Juneteenth, Freedom Came With Strings Attached

2 hours ago

California Should Fight the Ticketmaster Monopoly, Not Embolden It

13 hours ago

Willie Mays, Giants’ Legendary ‘Say Hey Kid,’ Dies at 93

14 hours ago

Balderrama Applies for Texas Police Chief Job

15 hours ago

California Fines Amazon Nearly $6M, Alleging Illegal Work Quotas at 2 Warehouses

15 hours ago

Nvidia’s Stock Market Value Topped $3.3 Trillion. How It Became No. 1 in the S&P 500, by the Numbers

16 hours ago

Two Fresnans Defrauded a Mentally Ill Man out of Millions. First Sentencing Comes Down.

16 hours ago

California Governor Wants to Restrict Smartphone Usage in Schools

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend