Hundreds of indigenous people, including children, across Ecuador are being trafficked each year but few victims come forward because of shame and fear and little is known about the true scale of the problem, campaigners say.
Ecuador's geographic location and other environmental characteristics have long provided incentives for transnational organized crime to exploit the country as a drug transshipment point and a logistical safe haven. Once considered one of the most insecure countries in the region, Ecuador has succeeded in tackling certain manifestations of violence in recent years. But drug trafficking through the country is on the rise, paving the way for possible growing insecurity further down the road.
Fishing industry workers and their families in Ecuador are pleading for assistance for over 100 fishermen incarcerated in foreign prisons on drug trafficking charges, highlighting how those at the bottom of the trafficking chain often pay a disproportionate judicial price in the war on drugs.
Authorities in Colombia dismantled a cocaine processing laboratory in the department of Putumayo along the border with Ecuador, a further indication that dissident elements of the demobilizing FARC guerrilla group are maintaining operations in this traditional trafficking hub.