Ecuador President Declares State of Emergency Amid Rise in Violent Crime

© REUTERS / MARIA FERNANDA LANDINA soldier of the armed forces patrols a street after Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso declared a 60 day state of emergency over rising crime in Guayaquil, Ecuador, October 19, 2021.
A soldier of the armed forces patrols a street after Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso declared a 60 day state of emergency over rising crime in Guayaquil, Ecuador, October 19, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.10.2021
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The announcement, that came shortly before a visit by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, was made as part of a crackdown on the consumption and trafficking of drugs amongst other crimes.
Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency Monday amidst a rise in violent crime and deadly prison riots, prompting the mobilization of police and military onto the streets.
“Starting immediately, our armed forces and police will be felt with force in the streets because we are decreeing a state of emergency throughout the national territory,” Lasso said in a national broadcast on Monday.
“In the streets of Ecuador, there is only one enemy: drug trafficking,” the right-wing leader declared.
He added that "in recent years, Ecuador has gone from being a drug trafficking country to one that also consumes drugs."
The 60-day state of emergency will allow police to increase patrols, as well as join drug and firearms operations in nine of the country's 24 provinces, including Guayas, home to major city Guayaquil.
In response to a spike in deaths within prisons, Lasso reportedly named a new defense minister on Monday. The latest massacre was in September this year, where 118 people were killed in what authorities identify as the most brutal prison massacre Ecuador has endured.
The government has blamed the violent clashes on a battle between gang members.
Army soldiers check an ambulance driver at the Penitenciaria del Litoral jail after prisoners died and others were injured in a riot in Guayaquil, Ecuador, September 28, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.09.2021
Clashes Between Rival Drug Gangs in Ecuadorian Prison Leave 116 People Dead, Some of Them Beheaded
Ecuador is a transit route for cocaine smuggled from neighboring Peru and Colombia, and the powerful Mexican drug cartels are said to operate through local gangs.
The prisons reportedly experienced deadly outbreaks after a 10-ton shipment of cocaine and arms were seized in August, according to a report by Borderland Beat.
Lasso said drug trafficking has brought an increase in homicides, burglaries of homes and thefts.
“The national government will deploy all law enforcement to carry out a single mission: to restore security to citizens. We will take the battle to the underworld wherever it hides.”
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