Ecuador declares emergency in three provinces over drug violence

Thousands of police and troops will be deployed under the state of emergency, the second to be imposed by the president in a bid to curb drug-linked violence.

Security forces line up outside Guayaquil prison after a deadly riot inside
Ecuador has struggled with violence related to drug trafficking which has also fuelled deadly prison riots [File: Vicente Gaibor del Pino/Reuters]

Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso has imposed a state of emergency in three provinces blaming drug-related violence.

“I have declared a state of exception in the [coastal] provinces of Guayas, Manabi and Esmeraldas, effective from midnight tonight,” he said in a speech broadcast by state media on Friday.

It is the second time Lasso has used emergency powers to counter violence that has surged since late last year. His government blames drug trafficking gangs who use the country as a transit point for exporting narcotics to the United States and Europe for the violence.

Some 9,000 police and soldiers will be deployed to patrol the three provinces during the two-month state of emergency, and a curfew enforced between 11pm and 5am local time (04:00-10:00 GMT) for certain areas, including the town of Duran, located near the port of Guayaquil.

Drug trafficking in Ecuador has led to a surge in crime, with 1,255 people killed since the start of the year, according to official figures.

It has also created a battleground inside Ecuador’s prisons between thousands of inmates with ties to powerful Mexican drug cartels. Some 350 people have been killed in jail massacres since February 2021.

Lasso previously declared a state of emergency in October last year, but the move faced criticism from the Constitutional Court, which halved the emergency period to 30 days and said the military should only support police operations.


Source: News Agencies