Gang leader missing from Guayaquil prison; 2023 inflation was 1.35%; ‘Los Lobos’ boss who threatened Salazar is arrested; Noboa eliminates security office

Jan 8, 2024 | 0 comments

National Police Commander Cesar Zapata confirmed Sunday afternoon that the leader of the Los Choneros criminal gang may have escaped from the Guayaquil Regional Prison. José Adolfo Macías, alias Fito, was not in his cell when police entered the prison to transfer him and two other convicts to another facility.

According to Attorney General Diana Salazar, Macías was considered “the most dangerous” criminal in the Guayaquil prison.

José Adolfo Villamar, alias Fito, leader of the Los Choneros criminal gang, following his 2013 capture by police.

“We continue our search since we are not sure of his [Macías’] whereabouts,” Zapata said. “It is possible he is still on prison grounds, but our fear is that he has escaped. All we know at this point is that he was in his cell Saturday night and was not there Sunday morning.”

Zapata added it is likely that Macías received prior warning of the transfer. “We are investigating if there was a leak within the prison about the operation.”

According to the Attorney General’s office, Macías was to be transferred to the La Roca maximum security prison during Sunday’s operation. “The order from national prison management was to relocate him and two other prisoners to solitary confinement for the purpose of ending communication with other prisoners,” prosecutors said in a statement.

Macías was sentenced to 34 years in prison in 2011 for murder and drug trafficking. He escaped in 2013 but was captured two months later and returned to the Guayaquil prison.

Inflation ends 2023 at 1.35%
Annual inflation in Ecuador ended 2023 at an annual rate of 1.35%, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INEC). According to INEC, the October, November and December all showed negative inflation, with the December rate registering -.02%. In a statement, INEC said that Ecuador’s inflation rate for the year was “not only the lowest in South America, but the lowest of all countries in the Americas.”

Gang leader who threatened Attorney General Salazar arrested
National Police arrested Los Lobos gang leader Colón Pico on Friday. Pico, who had escaped arrest since August, had threated to kill Ecuador Attorney General Diana Salazar. Pico, who is alleged to have connections to the assassination of presidential candidate Fernanco Villavicencio, faces 21 criminal charges, including money laundering, drug trafficking and murder. Prosecutors say the charge of threatening the life of a public official will be added to the charges.

Pico, who goes by the alias ‘Chonillo’, was arrested early Friday morning in Quito as part of police operating called “Sigilo”.

In text messages and social media posts, Pico, age 45, had threatened to kidnap and murder Salazar on at least five occasions, blaming her for “disrupting business operations” of Los Lobos and other gangs. Shortly after Villavicencio’s May murder, Pico said that Salazar or members of her family “must be eliminated to send a strong message to the state.”

Police say they located Pico based on information provided by an unnamed kidnap victim who was released in 2023.

During the arrest, police confiscated firearms, ammunition, explosives, a large amount of cash and three high-end vehicles at the house where Pico was living.

Noboa eliminates security office
Calling it a “publicity stunt” by the previous government, President Daniel Noboa announced the elimination of the National Secretariat of Public and State Security on Friday. The secretariat was established in January 2023 by former president Guillermo Lasso in response to series of drug gang murders, but Noboa said its functions were already performed by the police and other security agencies. “We do not need to fund a useless agency,” Noboa said.

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