Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa said Wednesday that his country is at war with drug gangs holding prison guards. Over the last 24 hours, 10 people were killed, 70 detained and 20 rescued from the hands of their kidnappers.
At least 130 prison guards and other employees of the penitentiary system were held hostage by inmates in at least five prisons across the country on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Medical services Ecuador confirmed ten deaths in clashes between gangs and security forces. Policemen were among the dead.
Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa issued a decree on Tuesday declaring that there was an “internal armed conflict” in the country. He ordered the mobilization of the army and police to “neutralize” 22 organized criminal groups, which he described as terrorist organizations. The day before, it was introduced throughout the country state of emergency and curfew.
Riots in Ecuador
On Wednesday, Ecuadorian police published on X a summary of initial operations against organized criminal groups. It shows that 70 people were detained, 20 kidnapped people were released, including three policemen, and explosives, Molotov cocktails, firearms and vehicles were seized.
Among those detained are 13 attackers who, with weapons in their hands and balaclavas on their faces, broke into the TC television studio on Tuesday, interrupting the live program. They were charged with terrorism, which carries a penalty of 10 to 13 years in prison, the prosecutor general’s office announced.
The introduction of the state of emergency was a reaction to the increase in violence and riots in prisons after the escape from prison of one of the most dangerous Ecuadorian criminals, the leader of the Los Choneros gang, Adolfo Macias, known as Fito. He served a 34-year sentence for, among other things, murder and drug trafficking.
The president announced on Wednesday that Ecuador will begin deporting foreigners serving prison sentences, especially Colombians, to reduce prison occupancy. According to him, there are approximately 1.5 thousand people in national prisons. citizens Colombia.
The world responds to the escalation of violence in Ecuador
Other countries in the region and around the world are reacting to the escalation of violence in Ecuador. Undersecretary of State USA Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols expressed “extreme concern about today’s violence and kidnappings” in Ecuador. He assured that his country “stands with the people of Ecuador” and is ready to provide assistance to his government.
The governments of the neighboring countries – Peru and Colombia – assured support for the Ecuadorian authorities fighting crime. Both countries announced at the same time that they were sending additional police or military forces to strengthen border security.
Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich announced that her country is ready to send military aid and security forces to Ecuador if necessary. She described the events in this country as a continental matter that may also affect Argentina.
The Chinese authorities decided to temporarily close the embassy and all consulates in Ecuador to the public. Beijing is closely monitoring the “changing security situation” in the country, said Mao Ning, spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
An increase in violent crime has been recorded in Ecuador since the Covid-19 pandemic, which hit the country’s economy hard. In 2023, over 8,000 were recorded. murders, almost twice as many as a year earlier, when there were 4.5 thousand. Before last year’s elections one of the presidential candidates was murdered.
According to the authorities, the reason for this situation is the growing importance of cocaine trafficking gangs, which are also destabilizing other countries on the continent. Noboa, the son of a banana trade tycoon, took office as president in November 2023, vowing to fight violent crime.
Main photo source: EFE