Ecuador and Colombia tighten noose on drug cartel; ‘El Guacho’ is in the crosshairs

Apr 19, 2018

Joint military and police operations by Ecuador and Colombia against drug traffickers are producing dramatic results.

A drug trafficking suspect is taken into custody in Colombia Wednesday.

Launched last weekend, following the murders of three Ecuadorian journalists, more than 100 suspects have been arrested or detained on both sides of the border. On Wednesday, Colombian army and police raided dozens of locations in Tumaco, considered the center of operations for the Óliver Sinisterra drug organization. Six people believed associated with Sinisterra were arrested while a dozen others were held for questioning.

According to Colombian police, guns, ammunition and explosives were confiscated in the raids.

In other operations Wednesday, police captured a man believed to be a top officer in the drug cartel. Captured in Ipiales, just north of the Ecuador border and known only as “Brayan,” the man is believed to be one of two top lieutenants to Walter Arizala, alias “El Guacho,” the leader of Sinisterra.

“Brayan was one of our biggest targets and his arrest shows major progress is our mission to destroy the cartel,” said Ecuador police commander, Ramiro Mantilla. “We still have a long way to go but we are advancing quickly.” Mantilla travels to Tumaco today to meet with Colombian police and military commanders.

Since Friday, more than 50 arrests have been made in Esmeraldas Province, many of them believed to be members of Sinisterra or associated with its drug operation.

As of Wednesday night, there has been no further information since Tuesday morning about an Ecuadorian coupled kidnapped Monday in Colombia. Sinisterra has claimed responsibility and is demanding the release of its members being held in Ecuadorian jails.

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