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Ecuadorian army invades prison after prosecutor assassinated

Freelancer Agence France-Presse Prosecutor César Suarez was shot dead Wednesday while driving his vehicle in a neighborhood in the port of Guayaquil.

France Media Agency to Guayaquil

12:52 p.m.

  • Americas

Hundreds of police and soldiers entered the Guayaquil prison complex on Thursday, the epicenter in Ecuador of a war against gangs linked to drug trafficking and where, the day before, a prosecutor investigating the criminal gangs who are spreading terror in the country was assassinated.

“Army and police personnel are carrying out a new intervention” to notably “control the external and internal perimeters of the penitentiary center”, indicated the army on the social network X.

The authorities did not provide further details on the reasons for this intervention. But it was from this same prison that Adolfo Macias, known as Fito, escaped, almost 15 days ago, the leader of one of the country's main drug trafficking gangs.

His escape was followed by a wave of violence. Mutinies and hostage-taking of guards have affected prisons, and in the streets of Guayaquil (southwest) or the capital Quito, gangs have sowed terror with explosions or shots aimed at the police.

AFP journalists saw tanks and heavily armed squads around the prison in the morning. A video shared by the armed forces shows heavily armed soldiers entering the compound with their faces covered.

Earlier, police announced the arrest of two suspects in the Wednesday shooting of prosecutor César Suarez, who was investigating the recent armed attack on a television station in Guayaquil.< /p>

“We arrested two alleged suspects in the assassination of prosecutor César Suarez” in Guayaquil, “after an investigative procedure which allowed us to identify their alleged participation in the criminal act”, said said the head of the general police, César Zapata, on the social network X.

He added that the “evidence” found by police included a rifle, two pistols, magazines and two vehicles, one of which was incinerated.

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The live appearance on January 9 of heavily armed, hooded men, pinning journalists and employees of the public channel TC to the ground under threat, shocked the country, faced with a wave of violence triggered by gangs linked to drug trafficking.

The rapid intervention of the police made it possible to put an end to the hostage-taking without causing any casualties and to arrest thirteen attackers.

To restore order, President Daniel Noboa declared the country “at war” against gangs and sent more than 20,000 soldiers to the field. Violence in the country has left at least 19 dead.

According to the prosecution, the murdered prosecutor was in charge of determining which gang had carried out this assault.

Prosecutor Suarez was shot dead while driving his vehicle in a Guayaquil port area. In the photos obtained by AFP, we see several bullet holes which passed through the driver's side side window, although it was apparently armored.

The prosecutor also led investigations that uncovered mafia infiltration of the justice system and corruption scandals in the procurement of medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In response to the murder of our colleague César Suarez […] I will be categorical: organized crime groups, criminals and terrorists will not stop our commitment to Ecuadorian society,” reacted Wednesday Attorney General Diana Salazar in a video posted on X.

Diana Salazar reported direct death threats from Los Lobos, one of the main criminal organizations, whose leader, Fabricio Colon Picole, also escaped from prison last week .

The 42-year-old prosecutor is at the origin of the vast “Metastasis” operation which resulted in December in the arrest of around thirty people, including judges and prosecutors, suspected of being involved in organized crime linked to drug trafficking.

Prosecutors are under threat from the twenty criminal organizations operating in Ecuador, once a haven of peace ravaged by violence after becoming the main export point for cocaine produced in neighboring states which are Peru and Colombia.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116