Ecuador experiences wave of terror

Ecuador experiences wave of terror
Ecuador experiences wave of terror
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Police officers operating at the site where the bodies of five Ecuadorian tourists were found after kidnapping by drug traffickers| Photo: EFE Agency/Ecuador Police

Authorities in Ecuador arrested two criminals allegedly involved in the deaths of five tourists over the weekend, in the southwest region of the country.

According to the police, six adults and five children, who had been at a resort since last Thursday, in the resort of Ayampe, were kidnapped during a raid on a hotel by around twenty armed drug traffickers.

According to the local commander, Richard Vaca, the victims were subjected to interrogations before being shot to death and having their bodies abandoned on a highway in the region. The police’s main suspicion is that they were mistaken for members of a rival gang by drug traffickers.

“The tourists had no ties to criminal organizations, but the attackers apparently confused these individuals with their opponents (…) in the dispute over microtrafficking in the region,” said Vaca. During the military operations to capture those involved, automatic rifles, pistols, explosives and ammunition were seized.

Years ago considered one of the calmest countries in South America, Ecuador has seen this scenario change since local drug trafficking grew when it became associated with Mexican and Colombian cartels. The homicide rate has skyrocketed since then.

Between 2018 and 2023, the violence rate in the country went from 6 to a record 46 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

Since the beginning of the year, after a spiral of violence was unleashed in prisons, the country has been experiencing a state of exception in an attempt to regain control of prisons and overcome the current security crisis. In the last three months, security forces carried out around 165,000 operations, made more than 12,000 arrests, killed 15 terrorists and seized around 65 tons of drugs, according to official data.

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The article is in Portuguese

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