Crime rate plunges after emergency declaration; Metastasis fugitive Salcedo arrested in Panama; Noboa has a new son; Rash of false bomb reports

Jan 17, 2024 | 0 comments

Ecuador’s Interior Ministry reports that violent crime, including murder, has “reduced significantly” since President Danel Noboa declared a state of emergency January 8. The Ministry says that murders, nationwide, have dropped from 29 a day to 14 and that violent attacks on individuals dropped 70% in the last eight days.

According to National Police reports, cases of alleged extortion and kidnapping have also dropped in the past week.

“The gang members who commit most of the crimes are laying low as a result of the joint police and military operations,” says Interior Minister Mónica Palencia. “The numbers indicate that we have made progress but we understand there is much more work to do to destroy the terrorist organizations. We are only in the early stage of this project.”

President Daniel Noboa’s wife, Lavinia Valbonesi, gave birth to a son, Furio, Tuesday and Miami.

According to the joint police-military command, 19,000 operations have led to more than 1,800 arrests, 169 of them confirmed to be linked to terrorist gangs.

Metastasis fugitive Salcedo arrested in Panama
One of the key targets of the Operation Metastasis corruption case, Daniel Salcedo, has been arrested in Panama. Salcedo, who faces numerous charges in Ecuador, including working for drug trafficking boss Leandro Norero and defrauding a public health hospital in Guayaquil, will be returned to Ecuador, according to president of the National Court of Justice Iván Saquicela.

According to Saquicela, Salcedo’s arrest followed an Interpol alert when Salcedo was identified through photos and text messages.

Salcedo fled Ecuador within days of being charged in the Metastasis case. According to the Attorney General’s office, he moved his ex-wife, girlfriend and children to Panama City and was renting an apartment there.

Noboa has a new son
President Daniel Noboa and his wife, Lavinia Valbonesi, announced the birth of their third child, a son named Furio, on Tuesday in Miami. According to the president’s press office, Noboa was traveling from Quito to Miami when Valbonesi gave birth. “Doctors expected the arrival on Wednesday, January 17, but the event came earlier,” the statement said. “The president intended to be with Lavinia at the time of delivery but arrived shortly afterward.”

Because Furio was born in Miami, he will have joint U.S.-Ecuadorian citizenship, like his father.

Noboa press office said that Noboa, Lavinia and Furio will return to Quito Thursday or Friday.

Police complain of false alerts for bombs
Police commanders around the country are complaining of a rash of false reports of bombings. “More than 90% of these reports are not bombs,” says Guayaquil National Police Captain Greg Garcia. “When we go to the scene we discover that they are fireworks, vehicle backfires, electric transformer malfunctions or other sources.”

Under the state of emergency, Garcia says it is important that police respond to all reports. “These are being called in by honest people who heard an explosion and because of the level of fear in the country, this is understandable. On the other hand, this is requiring a great amount of police time. We are urging people to remain calm and check the source of the noise if it is possible.”

False alerts also plague other major cities, including Cuenca, Quito, Santo Domingo and Manta. In Cuenca, a police officer investigating an explosion on Av. Las Americas on Monday said that “almost all the reports” he responds to are false. “People are scared, which is what you can expect,” he said. “The problem is that Ecuadorians love their fireworks and whenever one goes off, we get the calls.”

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