Ecuador’s Interior Ministry says it cooperates with law enforcement officials in the U.S., Canada, and other countries in sharing information about expats suspected of violating the law. The ministry, however, has filed a number of diplomatic complaints when foreign law enforcement agents come to Ecuador unannounced to capture suspects.
It says it plans to file another complaint soon regarding a Cuenca expat who was recently captured off the street and taken back to the U.S.
“Our cooperation does not extend to cases in which foreign law enforcement acts illegally to take back legal residents in Ecuador,” said Pedro Pasantez, spokesperson for the interior ministry. “We consider it kidnapping if we are not aware of the operation.”
According to Pasantez, there have been eight “kidnappings” by foreign governments that the ministry is aware of since 2008, five by the U.S., two by Canada and one by Israel. The ministry, which did not release names or other details, said that the cases involved alleged tax evasion, sale of technology secrets, sex trafficking, and parole violations.
One case involving a U.S. citizen occurred in March, Pesantez says. “A legal resident was taken off the street in Cuenca and flown back to the U.S. We are still trying to gather information about the case and plan to file a protest with the U.S. State Department once we know more.”
“We object strongly when we find out about covert operations on Ecuadorian soil,” said Pesantez. “We are always willing to work with foreign governments in legal matters involving foreign residents but don’t appreciate it when they violate our sovereignty.”
As evidence of its cooperation with foreign law enforcement, the ministry cites two high profile cases where Ecuadorian officials worked with the U.S government to apprehend suspects.
One was the 2012 arrest and extradition of U.S. citizen and fugitive Martin Malone who had lived a quiet life in the coastal town of Olón for 22 years. See article.
Malone skipped out of South Florida before a jury found him guilty of a federal drug charge in 1990. He forged a new life in South America — as a contractor, a “medicine man,” and a person whose kindness endeared him to many. Following his extradition, Malone was sentenced to 20 years in prison in South Florida.
In another case, a Quito expat who operated sex tours in Ecuador and Colombia, was arrested in the U.S. with the assistance of the Ecuadorian government. See article.
Patrick Minga was arrested in an FBI sting operation in 2014 in Alabama when agents responded to an ad on Craigslist. The ad read: “We have the best females from Colombia to Ecuador,” the Craigslist ad said. “Lodging, food and unlimited females for $1,395 for seven days.”
According to documents filed in a Florida court, Minga recruited Ecuadorian and Colombia women, and organized tours of North American men to Medellin and Cali, Colombia, and Quito and Cuenca.
According to Pesantez, Ecuador will always cooperate in cases it considers serious. “There are proper ways to handle these issues and all we ask is that the rules be followed,” he said.