The number of murders in Ecuador is up sharply in 2022, National Police report, with more than 70% percent of them occurring in the coastal provinces, almost half of them in Guayas Province.
“The figures are alarming and are a warning of the dangers that drug traffickers and transporters pose,” police spokesman Manuel Garcia said. “In Guayas, Esmeralds and Manabí Provinces, almost 75% of homicides are related to illegal drug activity.”
Through September 6, 2,862 murders have been recorded in Ecuador, with 2,137 of them in the three Pacific coast provinces. Guayas Province had the most murders, with 1,371, 1,123 of those occurring in metropolitan Guayaquil.
Nationwide, Garcia said murders have increased 34% in 2022 compared to the same period of 2021. “The increase, as well as overall numbers, are related almost entirely to the drug trade and do not indicate an increased atmosphere of lawlessness among the population in general,” Garcia says. “In non-drug related homicides, we see the same pattern that has prevailed in recent years, with the majority of cases being among families and people who know each other. We are seeing only a small increase of murders in non-drug crimes, such as robbery,”
Other provinces reporting the highest murder rate per 100,000 population, were El Oro, Los Ríos, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas and Pichincha.
Murders have also increased in Azuay Province and Cuenca, where the regional police command says that as many as seven of the 26 homicides in 2022 were related to drug activity. “In six of the seven cases, the victim was a former resident of Guayas or Manabí Province, and five had served time in prison,” the command said in a statement.
In Cuenca, police say five murders were femicides, in which the murderer was married to or knew the vicitim. Eight or nine of the other murders involved family members or acquaintances.
Despite the rise in numbers, the police command says that Azuay Province and Cuenca continue to have one of the lowest murder rates in Latin America for population centers above 500,000.
The only province in Ecuador not recording a murder in 2022 is Galapagos, where the last murder was recorded in 2019.