Ecuador: authorities establish an emergency state after an outbreak of violence linked to cartels

Five police officers were killed in the province of Guayas, in the southwest of the country, and prison guards taken hostage in the province of Esmeraldas, to the northwest.

Le Monde

The Ecuadorian President, Guillermo Lasso, established Tuesday 1 er November the state of emergency in two coastal provinces where a wave of violence due to drug gangs has made at least five dead among the police a few hours earlier.

“I declare the state of emergency in the provinces of Guayas and Esmeraldas, and a curfew from 9 pm” (3 hours in France), announced the head of state in a Speech broadcast on radio and television. The Constitution allows the president to declare the state of emergency and to involve the army when the country is faced with serious internal disorders.

The Ministry of the Interior indicated that Tuesday’s attacks left “five dead among the police” in Guayaquil, the economic lung of the country and capital of Guayas (southwest) and in the neighboring city of Duran.

Previously, the Minister of the Interior, Juan Zapata, had reported the death of two police officers in Guayaquil, as well as two other injured. The two police officers were shot on board their vehicle in Guayaquil and the other two were injured in an attack against a police station in the same city on Tuesday at dawn, in response to a transfer of 200 prisoners, then specified the police.

“declaration of war”

For its part, the prison administration had announced that eight prison guards had been briefly taken hostage Tuesday in Esmeraldas (north-west of the Ecuador).

“This is a reaction to organized crime,” the Minister of the Interior Minister Juan Zapata, stressing that had been a total of nine attacks, to the press. “The eight agents of the retained prison security and prison body were released” in Esmeraldas, had announced the prison administration (SNAI) to the press via WhatsApp, without providing more details.

In a video broadcast on Twitter, two people carrying explosives around the body had been presented as prison guards, while an inmate denounced the “corruption” of the penitentiary system. “If you want war, you will have war,” said a hooded man, adding: “We are going to explode these guards”.

Addressing the nation, the Ecuadorian president said that “these acts of sabotage and terrorism are a declaration of war open against the rule of law, the government and against all of you, the citizens”.

links with Mexican cartels 2>

Monday, the decapitated bodies of two people had been found hanging from a bridge in Esmeraldas, according to police from this country struck by crime linked to drug trafficking. In February, the Ecuadorian police had found two bodies tied up and suspended from a bridge in the city of Duran, a method often used by Mexican cartels. Explosive attacks were committed in the months that followed in several regions of the country.

The drug traffickers, some of which are linked to the Mexican cartels, waged a war in the streets and in the prisons of the country, where massacres have left nearly 400 dead since February 2021.

Located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s largest producers in cocaine, Ecuador has gone from the status of drug transit to that of important distribution center to Europe and the United States.

In 2021, the authorities seized a record number of 210 tonnes of drugs, mainly cocaine. Since the beginning of the year, the seizures have been totaling 160 tonnes.

/Media reports.