More than 1,100 people have been arrested and 17 “criminal gangs” were “disjointed” by the authorities Ecuadorianas part of special police and military operations in three provinces plagued by violence and drug trafficking, the government announced this Saturday.
Since April 30, and for 60 days, a state of exception has been in force in the coastal Guayas, Manabí and Esmeraldas (the latter bordering Colombia), decreed by President Guillermo Lasso to curb crime.
Look: Ecuador: massacre in Santo Domingo prison leaves at least 43 dead
In a tweet, the Ministry of the Interior explained that the first two weeks of operations left “1,131 detainees” and 17 “dismantled criminal gangs.”
More than 140 weapons were seized, as well as almost 200 cars and motorcycles, the office added, without giving further details.
A video showing uniformed police and military officers stopping and seizing vehicles on the roads accompanied the tweet.
Nine thousand soldiers and police were deployed in those three provinces, according to the government.
Ecuadorwhich for many years remained relatively safe from the violence of its neighbors Colombia and Peru – the world’s two largest producers of cocaine – is experiencing an increase in crime.
Last year closed with a rate of 14 murders per 100,000 people, almost double that of 2020.
The violence extends to prisons, where nearly 400 inmates have died in just over a year.
The latest massacre took place early Monday morning in the Bellavista prison in Santo Domingo (about 80 km from Quito), where 44 prisoners were stabbed to death in their cells. It was the sixth since February 2021.
The government attributes these bloody confrontations to the struggle of drug gangs for control of the storage and routes for the shipment of cocaine to the United States and Europe.