• Connect with us on Linkedin

Ecuador Breaks Up Eastern European Drug Trafficking Networks

The five suspects arrested on October 17 The five suspects arrested on October 17

Ecuadoran police have dismantled two criminal networks stretching from South and Central America to Eastern Europe, highlighting Ecuador's growing role as hub for transnational crime.

Linkedin
Google +

On October 7, Ecuadoran police, with the help of Polish authorities, executed a series of raids in Guayaquil and Montañita that led to the seizure of some $80,000 in cash and the arrest of seven people. According to El Comercio, the group was involved in drug trafficking and money laundering, with connections in Lithuania, Ukraine, and Panama.

On October 17, a joint investigation between the Ecuadoran Attorney General's Office and Ukrainian police led to the arrest of five Ecuadorans in the southwestern city of Machala. These men were allegedly involved in a drug trafficking network led by a recently-arrested Ukrainian kingpin.

The Attorney General's Office is currently investigating whether these two groups are connected.

InSight Crime Analysis

Ecuador's emergence as a hotspot for transnational crime led Jay Bergman, the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration's operations in the Andes, to describe the country as the "United Nations" of organized crime. In the past few years, Ecuador has seen an increase in the acitivites of Russian, Chinese, Albanian, Colombian, and Mexican organized criminal groups, and witnessed an explosion of African and Asian nationals moving through the country.

There are several factors that have contributed to Ecuador's growing importance as a meeting ground for transnational crime: lax visa policies, political instability, proximity to some of Colombia's most prolific drug cultivation areas and the use of the US dollar as official currency (which has facilitated money laundering).

The only potential silver lining is the resulting increase in transnational law enforcement cooperation between Ecuador and European countries. Last month, for instance, Ecuadoran police conducted an operation with Belgian and Dutch law enforcement that led to the seizure of eight tons of cocaine shipped from Ecuador and bound for the Netherlands that was worth around $647 million.

Linkedin
Google +

---

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We also encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, provided that it is attributed to InSight Crime in the byline, with a link to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

InSight Crime Search

The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas

InSight Crime Social

facebooktwittergooglelinkedin

Most Read

2 Divergent Views on El Salvador Gang Truce, 1 Sad Conclusion

2 Divergent Views on El Salvador Gang Truce, 1 Sad Conclusion

Two wildly divergent views of what is happening with the truce between El Salvador's two foremost gangs converge in one important way: they both paint a bleak picture for the near future of the fragile...

Read more

Uncertainty Swirls Around Mexico Vigilantes Disarmament 'Agreement'

Uncertainty Swirls Around Mexico Vigilantes Disarmament 'Agreement'

A vigilante leader in Mexico's Michoacan state has promised the groups will disarm by May 10, but details about what their agreement with the government entails are hazy, and it remains to be seen whether...

Read more

Ecuador Car Theft Rings Fuel Billion Dollar Transnational Trade

Ecuador Car Theft Rings Fuel Billion Dollar Transnational Trade

In 2013, Ecuador lost around $22 million and over 7,000 vehicles to car theft, a lucrative international trade that connects street level thieves to transnational organized crime groups.

Read more