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

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

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...

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...

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.

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...

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 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...