Ecuador: five dead in an attack attributed to organized crime

Ecuador: five dead in an attack attributed to organized crime

Five people died and 17 were injured Sunday in Guayaquil, Ecuador in an explosion attributed to organized crime that prompted President Guillermo Lasso to declare a state of emergency in the coastal city.

“I have declared a state of emergency in the city of Guayaquil due to the criminal events of the past few hours. All public forces will be available to restore control of the city,” the president said on Twitter.

Mr Lasso, who took office a year ago, said his government would “not allow organized crime to try to run the country”.

The state of emergency will be in effect from Sunday in this port of 2.8 million inhabitants located in the southwest of the country and will last 30 days, said Diego Ordóñez, the national secretary for public security and to State Security, during a press conference.

The explosion that occurred early Sunday morning in the popular district of Cristo del Consuelo killed five people, who have been identified and have no criminal records, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said during a a press conference.

He added that 17 people were injured in the blast, some of whom had criminal records. “Many, if not most, of them remain silent and do not want to contribute to the investigation,” he said.

Earlier, authorities said 20 people were injured.

Shortly before the explosion, two unknown persons on a motorbike arrived at the scene and left near a restaurant “a bag” containing in all likelihood “a powerful explosive device”, explained General Zarate, reporting the first elements of investigation.

– $10,000 reward –

The explosion also caused the destruction of eight houses, completely gutted by the blast of the explosion, two cars and a motorcycle, according to the SNGR.

Ecuador (AFP – Enric BONET-TORRA)

“Either we are able to unite to confront (organized crime), or the price to pay will be even higher for society”, warned Mr. Carrillo, announcing a reward of 10,000 dollars (9,750 euros) for anyone who provide information on this attack.

A once pacified neighbor of Colombia and Peru, the two largest cocaine producers in the world, Ecuador is today a center for the shipment of white powder to Europe and the United States and a place of territorial dispute. between multiple gangs, according to authorities and analysts.

Mexican cartels, keen to manage all business activity, from production to shipping, have found in Ecuador a dollarized economy where they can launder their illicit earnings and authorities unprepared to deal with gangs and quickly. overwhelmed by the economy of corruption.

Members of the Ecuadorian police inspect the scene of an attack in Guayaquil (southwest) on August 14, 2022 (AFP - Marcos PIN)
Members of the Ecuadorian police inspect the scene of an attack in Guayaquil (southwest) on August 14, 2022 (AFP – Marcos PIN)

The country, which for years was only a place of transit, has become a “sanctuary for organized crime”, Mario Pazmiño, former head of military intelligence, recently told AFP.

According to a recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ecuador, with a population of 18 million, is the third country in the world where in 2020 the largest drug seizures were made. cocaine, after Colombia and the United States, or 6.5% of the 1,424 tonnes seized worldwide.

Between 2021 and today, more than 300 tonnes of cocaine have been confiscated, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said. But seizures, which reached an annual record of 210 tonnes in 2021, represent less than 30% of what actually circulates in ports and airports.

This lucrative traffic leads to many lusts and violent settling of scores that the authorities are struggling to control.

The homicide rate has increased from 6 to 14 per 100,000 inhabitants between 2018 and today, according to statistics from the Ministry of the Interior.

The clashes between gangs have also spread to prisons and have killed more than 350 prisoners since February 2021.


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