Anti-crime group claims 20 candidates in February election have ties to illegal drug and mining money

Jan 7, 2023 | 3 comments

The Ecuador Anti-Corruption Parliamentary Committee presented a list of 20 candidates in the February election it claims have ties to organized crime and says it will provide more names next week. Most of those listed are mayoral and prefect candidates.

National Assembly members Sofía Sánchez, Fernando Villavicencio and Gisella Molina turned over the names of 20 candidates they say have ties to criminal organizations.

National Assembly members Sofía Sánchez, Gisella Molina and Fernando Villavicencio, who serve on the anti-corruption committee, said the names of the 20 have been turned over to the Attorney General’s office. “We are urging prosecutors to move quickly on these cases,” Villavicencio said at Friday’s press conference in Quito. “If our evidence is substantiated, we need to stop these people from appearing on the ballot or taking office if they do.”

In October and November, Villavicencio presented evidence to prosecutors that several members of the National Assembly had ties to crime organizations.

A campaign poster for Adis Solís (right), candidate for San Lorenzo mayor.

According to Sánchez, Molina and Villavicencio, most of those named are running for office in provinces close to the Colombian and Peruvian borders. “This is where crime groups have the most influence and where bribery and other forms of corruption are most evident,” Molina said.

In his comments, Villavicencio named Manta Mayor Agustín Intriago, who is running for reelection, as having “well established” ties to drug organizations. He also claimed that Adis Solís, a candidate for San Lorenzo mayor, has received money from Colombian drug cartels. He noted that Solís, who Villavicencio says lives a “lavish lifestyle,” has not paid income tax for three years.

He adds that both Intriago and Solís have ties to Leondro Norero, whose companies are under investigation for laudering drug money. “There are ongoing investigations of Solís and Intriago and it is critical that these be brought to a speedy conclusion. We are providing additional information today.”

Although several of the 20 candidates named by the anti-corruption committee are members of the Correista Unes party, including Solís, Sánchez says cases of corruption involve candidates from several parties. “This investigation is not a persecution of a single movement or political party and as soon as we learn of candidates with drug trafficking and illegal mining connections we will turn them in.”

In addition to those from Unes, the names of candidates representing the Democratic Left and Pachakutik parties are included on the list of 20, Sánchez says.