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Guatemala: gangs take hostages during transfer of prisoners

A group of gang members from the Barrio 18 in a Guatemalan prison were holding ten guards from the prison system on Monday after the Ministry of the Interior changed the prison leaders of the criminal group.

The Minister of the Interior, Olivero García Rodas, confirmed in a press conference the retention of the guards and said: “At this moment there are ten people taken as hostages.”

“We are not going to compromise (reach an agreement),” added the minister on the situation of the detainees, and assured that he already has external control of the prison.

The prison known as “El infiernito” is located in the department of Escuintla, on the southern coast of the country, and in the place are prisoners belonging to gangs.

The hostage-taking by gang members from Barrio 18 who are incarcerated in the prison occurred after the police changed the prison to “La Rueda” at dawn, as a group of men who control the gang is called.

“It was an organized operation to dismantle these gangs,” said the minister. “If the use of force is necessary, you will have to use force, I am not saying kill anyone. The National Civil Police has the right and the power to use reasonable force ”.

In an audio sent to journalists, a person claiming to be a prisoner system guard detained said: “Here what the hommies (gang members) all want is that their companions not be put in Pavón or Pavoncito (two prisons located in the department of Guatemala). We are fine, they want a peaceful dialogue. We ask the authorities to think of us and our families, to come in a peaceful way, ”he said.

Minister García Rodas explained that the gang members are in prison for high impact crimes such as rapes, murders, kidnappings and others, and that they are also linked to extortion, one of the biggest crimes in the country.