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Photo: @DanielNoboaOk (Twitter/X)


Violence surges in Ecuador: President Noboa declares state of emergency following the disappearance of a gang leader from prison

Additionally, the president proclaimed the country to be in a state of "internal armed conflict" after masked gunmen stormed a local TV station.

Marina Vanni

Ecuador’s newly elected president, Daniel Noboa, has declared a state of emergency on Monday, January 8th, for 60 days as a response to the disappearance of Adolfo Macias, the notorious leader of the Los Choneros criminal gang.

Macias, also known as "Fito," vanished from La Regional prison on Sunday, where he was serving a 34-year sentence for drug trafficking, murder, and organized crime.

The declaration follows a wave of violence and unrest triggered by Macias’ disappearance, with reports of prison riots and the kidnapping of at least four police officers.

Los Choneros, linked to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, has long been associated with heightened violence in Ecuador. The gang is suspected of orchestrating the killing of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio last year, although no charges have been laid against them or Macias in connection to the incident.

Under the state of emergency, the military is authorized to deploy in the streets and prisons. A nationwide nighttime curfew from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. has been imposed.

Moreover, President Noboa declared the country to be in a state of "internal armed conflict" this Tuesday on the heels of a shocking incident where masked gunmen stormed a public television station in Guayaquil. Thirteen suspects were arrested and charged with terrorism counts.

In response to the unfolding crisis, more than 20 drug-trafficking gangs have been labeled as terrorist organizations. Ecuador’s military is now authorized to take action against these criminal factions within the bounds of international humanitarian law.

The impact of the crisis in the legal world

The upcoming Mergers and Acquisition in Latin America Conference by the International Bar Association is set to take place in Quito on 13-15 March 2024. The event, presented by the IBA Latin American Regional Forum and the IBA Corporate and M&A Law Committee, might be impacted by the wave of violence grappling Ecuador and the government measures taken to combat criminal activities.

Author: Marina Vanni

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