Fight against violence in Ecuador: More than 8,000 people arrested in 37 days of internal armed conflict

Military members take part in a control operation in Quito (EFE/José Jacome)

more than 8,000 people have been arrested Ecuador In 37 days of “internal armed conflict” he president Daniel Noboa In early January a declaration was made against organized crime, whose gangs, mainly dedicated to drug trafficking, began to be considered terrorist groups.

the number of prisoners reached 8,080 In the latest daily balances published this Thursday by the Ecuadorian government, in which 241 arrested on charges of “terrorism” Whereas more than 52 tonnes of drugs have been seized there.

So far, security forces have conducted 98,890 joint operations (more than 2,600 each day), 153 of them against criminal gangs that officials now call terrorist groups.

Besides, 2,405 firearms, 12,433 explosives, 167,024 bullets, 1,236 bullet magazines and 3,422 knives have been seized.

during exception status Law enforcement forces have killed eight people they have identified as terrorists; Two members of the police have died and no casualties have been recorded in the military ranks.

Agents also seized 979 crime vehicles, 931 motorcycles and 28 boats, including a semi-submersible used to transport drugs; In addition to $195,398.14 and 47,360 gallons of fuel (about 179,000 litres).

figure in figures 34 prisoners were recapturedAbout 90 people escaped from prisons, where at the beginning of the year, there were several prisoner riots with 200 hostages, including guards and police, managed to be released.

View of some bullet shells in an archive photo (EFE/Jean-Marc Hervé Abelard)

After declaring an “internal armed conflict”, the government of President Daniel Ngoua recognized at least 22 international organized crime groups and found them to be a “terrorist organization” and a “belligerent non-state actor”.

By identifying these groups as belligerents, the President opened the legal door for the armed forces, together with the police, to act with all their resources to neutralize them.

The wave of violence in Ecuador began as the president was apparently preparing to launch his Phoenix Plan against crime.

In theory, this strategy sought to regain control of prisons, many of them internally dominated by criminal groups, whose rivalry has led to the killing of more than 450 prisoners in a series of prison massacres since 2020 .

However, prison violence spilled over into the streets until Ecuador became one of the most violent countries in 45 intentional homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2023.

Ecuador’s National Electoral Council (CNE) has prepared for the next April, 21st A popular consultation and a referendum consisting of 11 questions, which will focus specifically on security matters, among other topics.

In particular, among the questions that citizens will have to answer is the reform of Article 158 of the Constitution regarding whether the armed forces can support the work of the police in the fight against organized crime. The initiative was promoted by former President Guillermo Lasso.

The six questions that will be answered through the popular consultation include possible increases in penalties for crimes of terrorism, human trafficking or drug trafficking, as well as the classification of the use of weapons, ammunition or components of “special use”. Is. Armed Forces or National Police.

(With information from EFE and EP)

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