Ecuador declares state of emergency after 5 police officers killed, prison guards taken hostage, headless bodies hanged from bridge

Ecuador declares state of emergency after 5 police officers killed, prison guards taken hostage, headless bodies hanged from bridge

Ecuador declares state of emergency after 5 police officers killed, prison guards taken hostage, headless bodies hanged from bridge

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in two states on Tuesday after at least five police officers were killed and prison guards taken hostage in the latest wave of deadly gang warfare. country.

In the coastal states of Guayas and Esmeraldas, the state of emergency and night curfew will be in place for 45 days and allows the government to limit freedom of assembly and movement.

Officials say organized crime groups have carried out at least 13 attacks with explosives and firearms against police and oil facilities in response to the transfer of prisoners from Guayas 1 prison. The management of the prison also reported that “shots were fired” inside the institution.

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National police officers work at the scene of an attack on a patrol car in the María Piedad district of Durrán, Ecuador, on November 1, 2022, in which two police officers were killed.

GERARDO MENOSCAL/AFP via Getty Images


Located in the southwestern port city of Guayaquil in the state of Guayas, the prison was one of the main sights of the prison. a series of prison massacres Since February 2021, about 400 prisoners have died.

Interior Minister Juan Zapata told reporters in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, on Tuesday that there had been “repercussions of organized crime” in Guayaquil and the northwestern oil port of Esmeraldas.

These incidents included car bomb attacks and an explosion at a bus terminal.

Two police officers were killed early this morning when gunmen attacked a patrol car in Guayaquil, authorities said.

Three more officers were shot dead later in the day at the port and in the nearby town of Duran.

There was a separate attack on a police station there, injuring two officers.

In Esmeraldas, the same town where the two headless bodies were found hanging Inmates took eight guards hostage from a footbridge on Monday, according to SNAI prison authority.

All were later released, prison officials said, without elaborating on the condition of the guards.

A video circulating on Twitter shows two guards with explosives strapped to their bodies and a man claiming to be an inmate denouncing prison corruption. AFP was unable to independently verify the video.

“If war is what they want, war is what they will get,” the man said, his face darkening as he added. “We will use these guards.”

SNAI had earlier announced on Twitter that it was moving about 200 inmates from Guayas 1, transfers that were necessary to cell blocks due to the maintenance required.

However, according to the alleged hostage video, the move was prompted by the events at Esmeraldas.

“In light of the events in Esmeraldas and Gayaquil, we have activated our tactical and investigative units to maintain order and identify the perpetrators,” police said on Twitter.

The Education Ministry suspended classes in the Esmeraldas state capital on Wednesday, while President Lasso also canceled a planned trip to the United States.

He said he would lead a central command post in Guayaquil after the wave of violence, adding that police would “step up their operations.”

“These acts of sabotage and terrorism … are a declaration of open war against the rule of law, against the government and all of you citizens,” the president said in a televised and radio address.

“Today, drug criminals feel uncomfortable and express their discomfort with violence,” he added.

Ecuador, once a relatively peaceful neighbor of major cocaine producers Colombia and Peru, has seen a wave of violent crime that authorities blame on clashes between rival drug gangs believed to have ties to Mexican cartels.

As organized crime spread, some local gangs, such as the Lobos and Los Tiguerones, evolved into microcartels.

Both gangs work with Mexico’s Jalisco New Generation cartel and are responsible for deadly prison riots. Department of Justice considers The Jalisco cartel is “one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world.” Cartel leader Nemesio Oseguera.Mench,He is one of the most wanted by Mexican and US authorities.

Hundreds of prisoners were killed, many beheaded or burned, as the fighting spread to Ecuador’s overcrowded prisons.

Civilians are increasingly caught up in the bloodshed, which has included a series of car bombs, while the violence has also claimed 61 police lives since last year.

In recent years, Ecuador has transformed from a drug transit route into an important distribution center in its own right, with the United States and Europe as the main destinations.

Ecuador’s homicide rate nearly doubled to 14 per 100,000 in 2021, and rose to 18 per 100,000 between January and October of this year.

In 2021, law enforcement officers seized a record 210 tons of drugs, mostly cocaine. Seizures so far this year total 160 tons.



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