The Ecuadorian Army has destroyed almost 4,000 illegal weapons seized by the military and the police over the past year.
The army destroyed a total of 3,903 firearms in the furnaces of the Adelca steel company in the north of the country on Wednesday, including machine guns, rifles, shotguns, pistols and revolvers, as well as a large amount of ammunition.
Edwin Lara, the head of the Department of Arms Control, said the weapons were held for at least 90 days by the Joint Command of the Armed Forces (CCFFAA) before being approved for destruction.
Over half of the weapons were seized in raids in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest and the most populous city. Around 40 percent were seized in Pichincha province, where the capital, Quito, is situated.
Firearm-related violence is a growing problem in some parts of Ecuador, with El Telagrafo reporting that 58 per cent of assaults and robberies in Quito are committed with a firearm. Gang related violence seem to be increasing in the capital and the secretary of homeland security, Lourdes Rodriguez, recently admitted that the city faces a “serious” security problem.
An arms trafficking ring based in Quito, supplying weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was dismantled by police in March. During the operation, police seized a large cache of weapons, including semi-automatic rifles.