Ecuador is responding to Saturday morning’s bombing of a police headquarters in San Lorenzo with a show of force. In addition to more than a hundred law enforcement officers, 1,500 army troops are being deployed to the area just south of the Colombian border.
On Monday, Colombian Attorney General Néstor Martínez said the bombing was the work of a drug gang associated with Mexican drug cartels. According to Martínez, the gang is led by a man known only as “Guacho”, a former FARC guerilla who refused to recognize the peace agreement with the Colombian government.
Acknowledging that drug-related crime in Ecuador is a “spill-over Colombian problem,” Martínez pledged his country’s support in ridding the area of the perpetrators.
Law enforcement agents are focusing on Limones, a community of 7,000 just south of Colombia, that is accessible only by boat. According to a police briefing officer, the area of mangrove islands is used as a drop-off point for drugs being transported from Peru to Colombia. Locals told police that they see dozens of open boats with high-powered engines entering and leaving the islands every day.
Speaking anonymously to newspaper reporters accompanying the police, one area resident said that everyone in the community knows Guacho although he hasn’t been seen for several weeks. “He’s very powerful here and people are afraid of him,” he said. “We know that he has killed many people in Colombia.”
U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Todd Chapman announced Monday that a team of U.S. drug crime investigators will arrive in Ecuador on Tuesday. “We are in conversations with Ecuadorian officials and are committing resources to help solve the recent bombing and to rid the region of the drug trade.”