Members of the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs attacked each other on Wednesday in the latest gang violence inside the Cantel prison in the city of Quetzaltenango, Western Guatemala producing at least seven dead prisoners, most of them beheaded.
“Preliminarily, the death of seven inmates is known,” said the Ministry of the Interior in a statement, describing the situation as a “riot”.
Higher authorities have already deployed five hundred police officers to restore control at the Cantel Prison. The prison was built to contain 500 inmates but more than 2,000 prisoners are crowding the area.
Police sources told local media that the motivation for the attack was in retaliation for the murder of a gang member’s wife who had been shot dead by two men hours earlier.
The source adds that the inmate behind the violence is currently serving a sentence for murder.
Human rights groups have condemned the grim conditions of the Cantel Prison which is notorious for regular gang violence and riots.
Guatemala has one of the highest violent death rates in the world. Officials say almost half of the roughly 3,500 violent deaths a year are caused by gangs.
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