Headless bodies and deadly bombs. Cartel violence on the rise in Ecuador | Ecuador
The week began with the discovery of two headless bodies hanging from a pedestrian bridge. Prisoners were then taken hostage by inmates, nine car bombs exploded in two coastal towns, and five policemen were killed.
A string of gruesome attacks throughout Ecuador This week would once have been unthinkable, but such bloodshed is now almost routine in Andean countries as gang violence has reached unprecedented levels.
Late Tuesday night, President Guillermo Lasso declared a curfew at 9 p.m. under a new state of emergency in the affected regions of Guayas and Esmeraldas. He called the violent incidents “a declaration of open war” and said he was “ready to act tough”.
He added that the soldiers and police raided the prisons and confiscated weapons, ammunition, explosives and phones.
Analysts say criminal gangs, emboldened by lucrative ties to Mexican drug cartels, are using terror tactics to intimidate authorities and citizens as the country of about 18 million teeters on the brink of becoming a narco-state.
Ecuador’s Interior Minister Juan Zapata said the two officers killed Tuesday “lost their lives at the hands of organized crime.” Two more officers were injured in a separate attack on the police station.
“This year has been very sad and tragic for the national police,” Zapata said. “With these two cases, we now have 61 police officers who have performed official duties.
The latest spate of attacks is believed to be in response to the transfer of detainees from Guayaquil’s Littoral prison, the site of the incident. the worst prison massacre in the country’s history last year, which claimed at least 119 lives.
The latest bloodshed comes months after a deadly bombing in Guayaquil killed at least five people and wounded 17, marking an escalation of terror tactics against civilians and prompting the fourth state of emergency in a city torn apart by violence.
“In some areas, the state has been displaced,” said Colonel Mario Pazminho, Ecuador’s former director of military intelligence, referring to Guayaquil and parts of Ecuador’s Pacific coast. “We are talking about criminal governance with this new escalation of violence.
Since February 2021, more than 400 prisoners have been killed, many of them burned alive or beheaded. in an explosive increase in murders as rival gangs battle for control Profitable cocaine traffic routes to the US and Europe.
Located between Colombia and Peru, two of the world’s largest cocaine-producing countries, Ecuador is a strategic smuggling route due to its long Pacific coast and large maritime and fishing fleet.
Analysts say the rise in violence began when local criminal gangs began to compete for jobs competing with the Mexican Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation drug cartels.
During the first eight months of this year, 2,785 cases of violent death were registered in Ecuador. 10 year record which has already exceeded the total number of murders committed in 2021, according to police data. About two-thirds of those deaths were in coastal areas.
That figure nearly doubled to 14 per 100,000 in 2021 and rose to 18 per 100,000 between January and October this year.
Luis, 42, a hydraulic parts salesman in Guayaquil, the coastal city that has been the epicenter of the violence, said he is afraid to leave his home because criminals hang around his street corner.
“You can’t leave the house in the evening. It’s really hard,” he said. “Criminals are increasing day by day, you don’t even want to take a taxi,” he added.
He was also suspicious of the police, believing, like many Ecuadorians, that the facility had been infiltrated by drug traffickers.
As for the government’s response, he replied. “It’s really cool. Trying to set a curfew, [the criminals] will just laugh in your face.”
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