Who are Los Choneros, the criminal gang aka “Fito”?

(CNN Spanish) — Ecuadorian authorities are searching for Adolfo Macias, alias Fito, who escaped from a prison in Guayaquil, which, along with other factors, triggered a series of violent events that shook the country and led to unrest and conflict. The government responded by announcing the situation. internal combination.

The government said on Sunday that more than 3,000 police and members of the armed forces had been deployed to search for him. Ecuadorian authorities said they had not yet determined the exact time and date of Macias’ prison escape. His escape came to light on Sunday.

Macías is the alleged leader of Los Choneros, one of the most dangerous gangs in Ecuador, linked to maritime drug trafficking to Mexico and the United States, working with Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and the Oliver Sinister Front in Colombia. Used to be. Crime Investigation Center Insight Crime.

Fito was jailed after being convicted of drug trafficking. Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio reported in July 2023 that he had been threatened by Macías and warned the leadership that he would not continue his campaign against gang violence. Villavicencio was shot dead after a campaign rally in Quito on August 9, 2023.

The escape of criminal Adolfo “Fito” Macias, as well as several confrontations in various prisons, prompted President Daniel Noboa – who had taken office less than three months earlier – to declare a state of emergency.

The Ecuadorian government offered a reward for information leading to Fito’s capture.

Who are Los Choneros?

Emerging in the late 1990s in the coastal city of Chone in Manabí province, the Los Choneros gang has become the largest in Ecuador, according to Insight Crime, a research center on organized crime on the continent. American.

The gang is linked to Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and Colombia’s Oliver Sinister Front (FOS), and together with both organizations it is dedicated to maritime drug trafficking in Mexico and the United States, but also to micro- is devoted. Drug trafficking, smuggling, extortion and contract killings, with a presence in many cities and prisons in Ecuador.

According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a network of investigative journalists, Los Choneros primarily exploited the Pacific illicit drug route, which passes through Ecuador and concentrates 74% of the cocaine reaching North America. Does.

But it has been since 2011, when several of their leaders were imprisoned, that Los Choneros evolved and became a gang with a strong presence in Ecuador’s prison system, according to Insight Crime.

In recent years, Los Choneros have been coming under attack in the country’s prisons and streets in a war against their main rivals, Los Lobos and other smaller gangs.

Fito had escaped from prison once before, in 2013, and authorities captured him again.

Fito Ecuador Gel

Aerial view showing messages about the criminal gang of Adolfo “Fito” Macias, written by prisoners at the Region 8 prison in Guayaquil, Ecuador, taken Jan. 8, 2024, a day after the National Police and Armed Forces conducted a joint security operation Was. On facilities. The leader of the main criminal gang in Ecuador, Adolfo Macias alias Fito, may have escaped “hours before” on January 7 from an operation in the prison where he was serving his sentence, said Roberto Izurieta, the Secretary General of Communications, this Monday. Following the apparent escape of the head of the Los Choneros drug gang, incidents have unfolded in several prisons in Ecuador. (Photo by Enrique Ortiz/AFP via Getty Images)

Internal armed conflict of which Los Choneros are a part

Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa this Tuesday decreed the existence of an “internal armed conflict” in the country after violence escalated in the region.

This Tuesday marked a violent day in the country, with at least 8 people killed in Guayaquil, officials said in a press conference. An armed group temporarily took over a television channel in that city and other violent incidents occurred in various locations. According to authorities, at least 13 people were arrested for the incidents at TC Ecuador.

In the text of the decree, the government qualifies 22 organizations as “terrorist and belligerent non-state actors”. The list includes Los Choneros with Aguilas, Aguilaskiller, AK47, Caballeros Oscuros, Chonkillers, Covicheros, Cuartel de las Fees, Cubanos, Fatales, Ganster, Cater Pilar, Lagartos, Latin Kings, Lobos, Los P.27, Los Tiburones. , Mafia 18, Mafia Trebol, Patrones, R7 and Tiguerones.

“I have ordered the armed forces to launch a military operation to neutralize these groups,” Noboa said. In the message of X which accompanies the decree.

In addition to the reward offered by Fito, authorities are also offering a reward for information on the whereabouts of Fabricio Colón Pico, aka Captain Pico, the alleged leader of the Los Lobos gang.

With information from German Peddinger, Stefano Pozzibon, Ana Maria Cañizares, German Peddinger and Karol Suarez

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