Ecuador security forces launch major prison operation


Image source, .


Images show security forces moving into the prison complex

Security forces in Ecuador have launched an operation in a major prison complex in the port city of Guayaquil.

Soldiers and police officers have entered the facility and say they have restored order following a week of rioting in jails across the country.

Ecuador’s President, Daniel Noboa, has said his government is at war with gangs and organised crime.

Earlier this month, gang leader Adolfo Macías Villamar, known as “Fito”, escaped from the same complex.

Images show hundreds of troops storming the main prison in Guayaquil, as President Daniel Noboa’s crackdown on gangs shows little sign of slowing down.

The troops appear to have taken back control of the penitentiary which is considered the base of operations for the drug gangs in Guayaquil.

Image source, Policía Ecuador


Ecuador’s police shared a video on social media of the operation, showing officers looking through inmates’ belongings

The government’s recent move comes shortly after the murder of a prosecutor, César Suárez, who was investigating organised crime in Ecuador.

Mr Suarez, who was murdered on his way to a hearing on Wednesday, had been looking into a siege at a local television station in Guayaquil when masked gunmen took over the channel live on air and held the journalists hostage at gunpoint.

Authorities have detained two people accused of killing Mr Suárez. Local media reported that the two suspects belong to a criminal gang linked to one of Mexico’s powerful drug cartels.

Ecuador’s ‘internal armed conflict’

Police had entered the prison on 7 January looking to move Fito to a higher security wing within the same compound, but found his cell empty.

Two prison guards have been charged with helping him escape, and a government spokesman said he had been tipped off about his impending transfer.

News of his escape sparked riots in at least six jails across the country, and saw prison guards held hostage, and explosive devices set off in a number of cities across the country.

Image source, .


Armed officers are now standing guard outside the complex

President Daniel Noboa declared a 60-day state of emergency in Ecuador on 8 January.

He said the country is in an “internal armed conflict” with drug gangs and ordered his military to “neutralise” 22 armed groups – which he redefined as terrorist organisations.

“I didn’t sign up for this thinking it was going to be easy,” he said.

“We can’t continue with this game that these terrorist groups are trying to establish.”

The escape of Fito and ensuing violence represents a huge blow to Mr Noboa’s presidency, which begun in November last year.

At the age of 36, Mr Noboa became Ecuador’s youngest leader to be democratically elected, winning an election tarnished by the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.

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