Ecuador: Confirmed death of drug lord in mutiny

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The authorities of Ecuador confirmed on Tuesday the death in a prison of the drug lord Leandro Norero, known as "El Patron" and who evaded Peruvian justice by faking his death during the pandemic, while the number of deaths during the riot in that prison rose to 16.

The National Service for Attention to Persons Deprived of Liberty reported that due to regulatory and protocol issues, the details of the death of Norero, 35, must be delivered directly to the family.

He indicated that the number of injured at the moment is 43, two of them in critical condition and that they are being treated in hospitals in Latacunga, 80 kilometers south of the capital, and the headquarters of the prison where on Monday afternoon and the morning of Tuesday there was a riot and incidents of violence where the drug lord died.

On the outskirts of the prison, dozens of relatives of the detainees were located who, through shouts and tears, tried to communicate with relatives and at times managed to overcome the fences placed by the police.

Norero was arrested in an exclusive urbanization in Guayaquil at the end of May when 42 gold bars, weapons, jewelry and some seven million dollars in cash were seized from him. An investigation also revealed that he owned at least seven companies and the same amount of luxurious real estate, among other assets, with which he came across after a police follow-up of nearly a year.

Norero's name practically went unnoticed by the authorities and security forces until the beginning of 2021, when the Ecuadorian police began to investigate him for alleged links and financing of violent gangs that control state prisons, international drug trafficking routes and drug sales territory. drugs, such as Tiguerones, Ñetas, Lagartos and Lobos.

He is also linked to the Mexican drug cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, to which the Andean country's police estimate that it supplied about 10 tons of cocaine each month.

Justice also maintained investigations into the sale, at premium prices, of medical supplies by Norero companies to the State during the pandemic, as well as contracts for civil works with city municipalities, especially in the tropical zone of the country, such as Manta, among others.

While awaiting trial for drug trafficking and money laundering in Ecuador, he was held in the Latacunga state prison, where he was murdered.

Norero was required by the Peruvian justice for drug trafficking, which he managed to evade in mid-2020, in the most critical months of the coronavirus pandemic, when his lawyers presented a falsified death certificate and photographs of his death, with which he managed to escape to Ecuador.

Around noon, dozens of soldiers arrived at that prison to reinforce security while administrative personnel were evacuated from inside that institution.

In the last hours, detonations were heard that could not be identified if they were tear gas or gunshots, while groups of police entered the medium security pavilion to verify if there were more victims of the attacks between rival gangs that have left 15 dead so far, reported the organism.

For a couple of years, the state prisons of Ecuador have become the scene of bloody clashes between rival groups of prisoners caused, according to the authorities, by the dispute over drug distribution routes and territories.

According to figures from the Service for the Attention of Persons Deprived of Liberty, last year 316 inmates were killed by their colleagues while so far this year there have been 106 fatalities.

The most serious massacre occurred in September 2021 at the Litoral Penitentiary, in the city of Guayaquil, where 125 prisoners were killed. Two months later, a new massacre took place in that prison, in which 65 people lost their lives.

Ecuador's prison system is designed to hold about 30,000 people, but as of last month there were about 35,000 inmates in the country's 53 state prisons.

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