Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Equator launches muscular offensive ;e against gangs

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Soldiers patrol the streets of Carapungo, a popular neighborhood in the north of Quito, the January 11, 2024.

Agence France-Presse

With thousands of soldiers deployed throughout Ecuador, the government continues its muscular offensive on Thursday against the criminal gangs linked to drug trafficking which have been terrorizing the country for four days, and will receive support from the United States to “work together.”

More than 22,400 soldiers deployed, with land, air and sea patrols, searches and all-out operations in prisons: the government of new president Daniel Noboa does not seem willing to give in to attempts at intimidation by criminal gangs.

They wanted to sow fear, but they aroused our anger. They thought they would subjugate an entire country and forgot that the armed forces are trained for war.

A quote from Gian Carlo Loffredo, Ecuadorian Minister of Defense

In its fight against gangs, Ecuador will receive support from the United States. Gen. Laura Richardson, head of U.S. Southern Command, and senior civilian officials will visit the country in the coming weeks to explore with their Ecuadorian counterparts how to work together more effectively to confront the threat posed by transnational criminal organizations, the State Department announced Thursday.

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Soldiers check the identity of a passerby in the streets of Carapungo.

If the police and soldiers patrol the streets en masse, the situation is much more delicate in the prisons where the prison administration (SNAI) reported on Thursday 39 new agents held hostage in seven prisons, bringing the total to 178 between guards and administrative staff.

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She also said detainees were shooting at armed forces from prisons.

Mr. Noboa announced Thursday that to deal with prison overcrowding, he intended to send back 1,500 Colombian prisoners to the border, citing international agreements. Colombia rejects this unilateral measure and maintains that, in practice, this would amount to releasing these prisoners.

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Soldiers are at the entrance to El Inca prison after riots , January 8, 2024.

Ecuador has 36 prisons with a maximum capacity of 30,200 people. A census in 2022 established that 31,300 prisoners were behind bars, including 3,200 foreigners. cities across the country, many stores remain closed, public transport is slow, universities and schools are holding virtual classes and teleworking is practically the norm.

The broadcast of broadcasts from public television, TC, in Guayaquil, stormed live on Tuesday by armed men, taking journalists hostage and injuring two employees, resumed on Thursday at midday.

Thank you everyone for your messages of support! […] Thank you to the police and the army for their professionalism and their impeccable work, commented a presenter, visibly very moved.

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Armed men burst into the set of a public television station in Guayaquil on Tuesday afternoon, briefly taking journalists and other channel employees hostage.

The wave of violence that the country is going through has its origins in the escape on Sunday from Guayaquil prison of the feared leader of the Choneros gang Adolfo Macias, alias Fito, followed by mutinies in the prisons, seizures of prisoners and prisoners. hostages and explosive attacks.

President Noboa, 36, gave a strong response. On Monday, he declared a state of emergency for 60 days throughout the country, including in prisons, which have become operating centers for narcos.

Elected in the fall on the promise of restoring security in the country, once a haven of peace, but which had become a shipping center for cocaine produced in neighboring Colombia and Peru, he then considered the country to be in good condition. of war and called for mobilization.

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Daniel Noboa celebrates his electoral victory alongside his wife, October 15, 2023.

We cannot give in to these terrorist groups, around twenty in total who count, according to the youngest president in the history of the country, more than 20,000 members.

The gangs fight for control of territory, but are united in their war against the state.

Every day, videos circulate on social networks showing cruel killings of members of the security forces, looting and alleged attacks. The police denied the veracity of these images, which are fueling psychosis among the population.

According to the authorities, the death toll is 16.< /p>Open in full screen mode

Soldiers patrol the Quito metro.

In Guayaquil, the most dangerous city in the country, a few passers-by were visible in the streets this Thursday, while administrations now fenced off on all sides have reopened their doors, noted AFP.

According to the information site Primicias, which mentions a hunt for tattoos, the police deployed in the port city systematically check the tattoos of the people checked to determine their possible gang membership.

Over the past five years, the rate of homicides per 100,000 people in the country has increased from 6 to 46 in 2023.

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