Ecuador

Ecuador descends into cartel violence (VIDEOS)

user avatar Author: Editors Desk Source: France 24
January 9, 2024 at 19:59
Police leave the El Inca prison after a security operation due to riots, following the disappearance of Jose Adolfo Macias, alias 'Fito', in Quito, Ecuador, January 8, 2024. © Karen Toro, Reuters
Police leave the El Inca prison after a security operation due to riots, following the disappearance of Jose Adolfo Macias, alias 'Fito', in Quito, Ecuador, January 8, 2024. © Karen Toro, Reuters

Ecuador's President Daniel Noboa on Monday declared a country-wide state of emergency, including the prison system, after an "extremely dangerous" narco boss escaped from his maximum security cell and unrest erupted at several penitentiaries.

"I have just signed a decree for a state of emergency so that the armed forces have all the political and legal support in their actions" against these "narcoterrorists," Noboa said on his Instagram account.

General Cesar Zapata, the national commander of police, told a press conference that the country's armed forces had determined that one of the inmates in the Guayaquil prison was missing.

While Zapata did not mention the inmate by name, the prosecutor's office said it would investigate "the alleged escape" of Jose Adolfo Macias, the leader of Los Choneros criminal group.

Macias, whose alias is "Fito", was sentenced in 2011 to 34 years in prison for various crimes including drug trafficking and murder.

Los Choneros is a criminal organization authorities have linked to extortion, murder and drug trafficking, among other crimes, and accused of controlling the country's main prisons.

"We're grateful for the courage and commitment of the law enforcement forces, who, in an operation involving more than 3,000 people, have intervened in the prison in search of the most-wanted prisoner," said presidential spokesman Roberto Izurieta at the press conference.

Rival criminal organizations frequently clash in Ecuador's overcrowded prisons and official numbers show more than 400 inmates have died since 2021.

(France 24 AFP and REUTERS)

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