More Than 30 Homicides Rock Ecuador Over Easter Weekend

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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What You Need to Know:

Between Thursday and Sunday, Ecuador was rocked by a series of violent homicides, including the kidnapping and killing of five tourists in Puerto López. The deteriorating security situation in the country, which has been under a national state of emergency since the 9th of January, is occurring against the backdrop of President Noboa’s ‘Phoenix Plan’, a comprehensive security plan focused on providing security services with tactical weapons, establishing an intelligence unit tasked with dismantling narco-gangs, and bolstering security at key airports and ports.

The Details:

However, with over 30 homicides occurring over a 4-day period, there are signs that despite a $200 million security investment from the United States, Ecuador is struggling to counter the various narco-gangs and traffickers vying for control in some of the country’s most crime-ridden provinces, such as Manabi and Guayas, where this weekend homicides took place. 

On Thursday, six adults and five children were kidnapped outside of their hotel in Puerto López, Manabi, by 20 armed assailants. The five children were released with one adult on the edge of a nearby highway, while the other five adults were killed and their bodies dumped in the vicinity. Police suspect the holidaymakers were mistakenly caught up in a gang dispute, despite having no criminal records. Three arrests have been made thus far. 

On Friday, four residents of Manta City, Mantabi, including a military serviceman, were shot while at a party by unknown assailants. 

The next day in Guayas, eight locals were shot dead by gunmen at a volleyball game, leaving 12 injured.

On Sunday, three residents of Guayaquil City, Guayas, were killed and three more injured after gunmen indiscriminately opened fire on a crowd.

So, What Now?:

On March 8th, President Noboa extended the country’s state of emergency for a further 30 days until April 8th. The initial state of emergency was declared in early January after notorious gang member José ‘Fito’ Macias escaped from a Guyanquil prison. A wave of gang crime ensued, including the capture of 130 prison guards and administrative employees. The crime spree peaked during the takeover of an Ecuadorian TV station while it was live on air. The TV station was eventually recaptured by security services, and the assailants were arrested. However, gang crime in the aforementioned provinces continues, with attacks on government officials increasing. For example, on March 25th, Brigette Garcia, mayor of San Vincente in western Manabi province, was found dead in a rented car. The spike in crime against the residents and government officials of Manabi and Guayas is likely linked to the various gangs operating in the region, vying for control of key trafficking areas.