Ecuadoran Interior Minister José Serrano Salgado receives DEA award

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently presented an award to Ecuador’s Interior Ministry in recognition of the country’s drug interdiction efforts, signaling its approval of increasing drug seizures by Ecuadorian authorities.

The Interior Ministry announced its acceptance of the award in a June 6 press release. According to the statement, Interior Minister José Serrano Salgado received the award in Washington “for his strong leadership in the national and international counternarcotics fight and the excellent results obtained by the anti-narcotics police in Ecuador in recent years.”

An accompanying infographic (below) stated that the Ecuadorian National Police has carried out more than 4,800 anti-drug operations so far this year, resulting in the seizure of more than 47 metric tons of drugs and the dismantling of 29 criminal organizations.

16-06-07-Ecuador-DrugChart

Although the vast majority of the police operations were targeted at domestic drug distribution (about 95 percent), the police figures indicated that the majority of the seized drugs were destined for the international market (39.9 out of 47.4 total metric tons, or about 84 percent).

Accurate drug seizure statistics are notoriously difficult to compile, but it does appear that Ecuadorian authorities have ramped up drug interdiction efforts in recent years. According to Ecuadorian police statistics cited in the most recent International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) from the US State Department, Ecuador seized more than 72 metric tons of drugs in 2015, up from about 52 metric tons the previous year.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Ecuadorian government has been sending mixed signals recently about the focus of its counternarcotics policies. Last year, authorities indicated that they were attempting to shift their focus from combating international drug trafficking to fighting domestic microtrafficking, which has been linked to rising violence in Ecuador.

However, Ecuador has long served as a hub for international trafficking. The country lies between the world’s two largest producers of cocaine -- Colombia to the north, and Peru to the south -- and its largest city, Guayaquil, serves as one of the busiest ports in Latin America. Maritime drug trafficking has long been a theme in the Ecuadorian underworld. The first discovery of a “narco-submarine” was made in Ecuador in 2010, and hundreds of Ecuadorian fishermen have been arrested in recent years for ties to the drug trade.

SEE ALSO: Ecuador

The use of Ecuador as a transit country for drugs destined for the international market may have contributed to the growth of domestic markets for microtrafficking, which means that the two issues should not be viewed in isolation from one another.

Interior Minister Serrano’s comments upon accepting the DEA award seem to indicate an understanding of the complexities of the issue.

“Today we should not worry only about how much is seized but above all about how much is stopped from being trafficked, that is to say how we prevent drug trafficking,” Serrano said. “The only way to prevent drug trafficking is protecting the employment opportunities of citizens who are vulnerable to this crime.”

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...