Caracas, March 22, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – A group of 14 hostages were freed from David Viloria prison in Lara state on Tuesday where they had been held by criminal gangs since Friday.
The group, including seven Prison Ministry officials providing educational and legal services in the facility, were kidnapped on Friday afternoon after gang members reportedly set off a grenade in the prison cafeteria, injuring several other public servants, who were rushed to a nearby medical center.
“We have successfully resolved the situation with the release of the 14 people who had been kidnapped,” announced the Minister of Prisons, Iris Varela.
On Monday night, one of the hostages, a teacher by the name of Jenny Rodriguez, was released into the Prison Ministry’s custody, while another hostage was reportedly killed earlier that day in another grenade explosion.
The prisoner responsible for the murder has been apprehended and is receiving medical treatment.
All prisoners involved in the incident will answer for their alleged crimes, the minister vowed.
“We will not go back on all of the sacrifice made in bringing order to the penitentiary mess that existed in this country.”
Authorities are currently investigating the alleged involvement of Prisons Ministry security personnel in smuggling arms into the facility, including grenades, C4, and shotguns.
Venezuela’s penitentiary system suffers from chronic overcrowding with many of its facilities under the control of armed criminal groups who engage in drug trafficking, prostitution, and other illicit activities.
The Venezuelan government began a project to "humanise" its penitentiaries in 2011, including opening new prison centres and making educational and recreational programmes available to inmates.