Ecuador is under lockdown for 60 days as government forces clash with drug cartels across the country after one of the nation’s most notorious cartel leaders Adolfo Macias alias “FITO” escaped from his prison cell along with dozens of prisoners connected to criminal organisations over the weekend. The recently elected president of Ecuador Daniel Noboa called it an internal armed conflict and ordered the military to neutralize the gangs who have been labeled terrorist organizations by the president saying on national TV “We have taken measures that should have been taken long ago.”
According to a story published in The Social Talks on January 10, 2024, the incident that shocked the world was masked gunmen interrupted a live TV broadcast holding the staff hostage before the police stormed the station and arrested the gunmen and all hostages were released with no one killed. More than 130 prison officers were held hostage by inmates in different prisons. According to a story published by the Guardian on January 10, 2024, President Daniel Noboa said ” Police records, in 2023 saw at least 7.592 violent deaths, compared with 4,426 in the previous year”. This makes it one of the most dangerous countries in South America.
Drug cartel groups want to expand the production of Narcotics to make a profit which leads to conflict with the state, so they resorted to terrorist tactics. Ecuador is a neighbour country to Colombia and Peru which are the world's largest cultivators of cocaine according to the UN World Drug Report 2023. Peru declared a state of emergency so the military could assist the police on its northern border with Ecuador. Because of its role in the supply chain role for big quantities of cocaine go through Ecuador to Mexico and then to the US.
The impact on US and Europe
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released the numbers for the 2023 fiscal year according to the report they encountered 117,487 from Ecuador at the US-Mexico border compared to 24,936 in 2022 seeking asylum in the US due to humanitarian reasons as violence escalated in Ecuador. John Kirby the white house national security council spokesperson in the press conference said “Our message to Americans that are in Ecuador is to please stay vigilant.” according to the ABC News report major US airlines such as American United, JetBlue, and Spirit canceled some flights to Ecuador after the declaration of an internal armed conflict.
According to a Forbes article published on January 9, 2024, most of Central and Western Europe cocaine seized by customs authorities came from Ecuador. it would be more than that in 2018. The amount of cocaine seized in Ecuador’s ports tripled to 77.4 tons from 2020 to 2022.
Image: NBC News
Edited by: Megha Siddapura Manjunatha
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