Historic drug seizure highlights the rise in drug trafficking in Ecuador

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Ecuador reached a historic drug seizure with more than 210 tons seized, reported on Tuesday the general commander of the Police, Tannya Varela, who admitted that the Levels of violence in the country are linked to drug trafficking.

At a press conference, the commander stated that “a historic job” was carried out that with the seizure of narcotics “affected the criminal mafias in 384,674,169 dollars.” Of the total drug seized in 2021, 192 tons were destined for international trafficking and 18 for domestic consumption. It also indicated that 96 tons of drugs were captured in Guayaquil and 54 in ports.

Varela regretted that the blow to the narco-criminal organizations in their illegal economy “has resulted in the end of the lives of those people who were unable to take care of, remove, and distribute the drug”, ending with 1,531 violent deaths of those who “have been co-opted ”by organized crime.

The commander reiterated that drug trafficking is the cause of “all this problem of criminal violence” that is linked to the prison crisis and it has moved to the streets, “where today the dispute over territory is aggressive.”

At least four violent episodes occurred in 2021 in Ecuador’s prisons, especially in the Litoral Penitentiary, due to clashes between criminal groups that are vying for power and that are linked to transnational crime groups.

Hundreds of inmates died in a bloody way in a crisis that forced the State to decree repeated states of emergency. The authorities have admitted that those deprived of liberty have control within the pavilions, while the Police and military maintain surveillance of the external perimeter.

Varela assured Tuesday that the National Police will strengthen anti-narcotics control because “we are not going to compromise” with drug gangs. He reported on meetings that are being held with Colombia and Peru for this purpose, as well as cooperation with the United States has been intensified, as part of a regional combat strategy to break the supply – demand chain, he said.

In the previous year, the number of drugs seized was 128 tons, while 10 years ago Ecuador seized 18 tons, explained the police authority to establish a comparison range as well as to show the increase in drug trafficking.

The national director of Anti-narcotics, Geovanni Ponce, reported that the Police has an analysis room in ports and airports that has been equipped and has trained personnel, which will allow maintaining and exceeding the historical rates achieved in the fight against drug trafficking. In the same way, it will operate in road and border control to “avoid the passage (of drugs) to the interior of the country and that it can be taken to other destinations,” he concluded.

The government of President Guillermo Lasso formed a dialogue and pacification commission with national and international experts in order to confront the prison crisis that left more than 300 prisoners of liberty perished during violent confrontations between criminal gangs in 2021.

Nelsa Curbelo, commissioner and activist for the defense of human rights, has publicly stated that the commission’s work is aimed at achieving a truce between the inmates and their organizations, and admitted the complexity of reaching a peace agreement.

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