Drugs seized by Quito police

Police in Ecuador have highlighted the role of local drug trafficking clans -- often based on family ties -- within the country's growing drug trade, a sign that Ecuador's increasing importance as a transit point could be catalyzing growth in the domestic market.

Law enforcement officials say they have identified some of the primary families responsible for transport and sales of drugs within Ecuador, especially in the capital of Quito, reported Telegrafo.

Colonel Mauro Vargas, head of the antinarcotics office in Pichincha province, where Quito is located, said recent law enforcement efforts to target these networks have resulted in 20 arrests in the capital, destroying a micro-trafficking ring allegedly responsible for moving around 30 kilos of cocaine a month.

The arrests began with "Operation Renacer" on October 25, which saw 10 accused drug dealers detained in Quito, reported Telegrafo. Authorities in Pichincha have seized a total of 145 kilos of cocaine and 857 kilos of marijuana so far this year.

Officials say the majority of these drugs enter the country from Colombia and Peru and are processed in border provinces before passing on to the capital and other cities. According to Colonel Vargas, law enforcement authorities are following the activity of six other groups involved in domestic drug sales, many based around specific families.

ecuadordrugs

InSight Crime Analysis

There have been numerous indications to suggest a rise in micro-trafficking activity and a growing domestic drug market in Ecuador in recent years. This has coincided with Ecuador's increasing prominence as an important transit point for international cocaine trafficking routes to Europe and other major markets.

Micro-trafficking rising as international drug exports rise is a common phenomenon seen around the region, as international traffickers often pay local associates in product, which then floods the domestic market.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Ecuador

Ecuador's trafficking routes have historically been under the control of transnational organizations, including Colombian groups the Rastrojos, and, more recently, the Urabeños and Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, which is renowned for operating in this way -- recruiting locally and paying in drugs.

While the micro-trafficking networks identified by the police are Ecuadorean, foreign groups are also known to have a stake in the local drug trade, most notably Colombian gang "La Cordillera," which earned an estimated $20,000 a day from the Quito drug trade. However, over the last year, La Cordillera has suffered the loss of several key figures and the extent of their current operations is unclear. 

Investigations

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

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...

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.

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...

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...

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...

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: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

'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...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...