Ecuador, a major gateway for Colombian cocaine that is shipped to Mexico and Europe, is wracked by violence today as the foot soldiers of the traffickers attacked TV stations, prisons and the Presidential Palace. The spreading violence follows the prison escape of the leader of one of the major drug rings:
Ecuador’s president has declared a state of emergency after one of the country’s most notorious gang leaders escaped from prison, followed by a violent uprising with explosions and the kidnapping of several cops.
Adolfo “Fito” Macias, the leader of the feared Los Choneros gang, escaped Sunday from La Regional prison in Guayaquil, where he was serving 34 years for drug trafficking, murder and organized crime. , , ,
Two prison guards have been charged with helping the escape — nearly 11 years after Macias was recaptured after a previous break.
The gang leader’s escape was followed by clashes among inmates at six of Ecuador’s overcrowded prisons, including guards taken as hostages.
The major media is largely ignoring this story or treating it as an insignificant sideshow. I think that is a mistake. This outbreak of violence is very serious. Warning. You may find some of the following videos disturbing.
This video shows the narco foot soldiers storming a TV station in Quito and taking the personnel hostage:
Disclosure. In 1992 I led a U.S. State Department team to Ecuador to evaluate their SWAT unit in Quito — i.e. Grupo de Intervencion y Rescate aka GIR. I conducted the assessment with Bill O’Brien (now deceased) who was the head of Miami’s SWAT unit. Why do I mention the GIR? The GIR rescued the hostages at the TV station and we have the video. Glad to see they have maintained their skill:
Other Ecuadorian officials, such as prison guards, were not as fortunate. There are some truly harrowing videos posted on Telegram from today’s multiple attacks:
This video (WARNING) shows the execution of a prison guard:
There were other chaotic scenes throughout Ecuador. This was a coordinated attack by the drug cartels. In addition to more executions, masked gunmen were firing randomly at cars and people in the streets of Guayaquil and Quito.
The foreign embassies in Quito most likely are in lockdown and orders to shelter in place issued to their personnel. This is a glaring policy failure on the part of the United States, which has jealously guarded its role as the dominant power in Central and South America. The fact that the Ecuadorian drug gangs have grown so powerful and showed no reluctance in carrying out these brazen, horrific attacks is new for Ecuador. This is reminiscent of Pablo Escobar’s war of terror in Colombia in the early 1990s.
It is important to understand that these attacks were not isolated events. It was a coordinated operation. As nightfalls it appears the prisoners/narcos are in control of at least five prisons in Ecuador. Getting these worms back in the can is going to test for President Daniel Noboa, who issued a 60-day state of emergency that gives the Ecuadorian Armed Forces essential political and legal support.
If you were planning a visit to the Galapagos Islands in the next couple of weeks I would put those plans on hold. Normally, tourists arrive in Quito, then travel to Guayaquil on the coast to board a boat for the Galapagos. it is not the best time to be a tourist in Ecuador.