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Guayas prefect, hospital corruption suspect and former football star dies suddenly

Guayas Province prefect and former football hero Carlos Luis Morales died of a heart attack Monday in Guayaquil. Arrested three weeks ago for his alleged role in a plot to sell overpriced supplies to government hospitals, he was 55.

Carlos Luis Morales, center, being led away after his June 3 arrest.

Morales arrived at a Samborondón health clinic without vital signs Monday morning and efforts by doctors to revive him proved futile. His son said he believed his father died of natural causes due to a heart condition for which he was receiving treatment.

Morales was arrested at his Guayaquil home June 3 on charges of influence peddling the sale of Covid-19 medical supplies to Social Security hospitals in the Guayaquil area. National Police found hospital sales records as well as a supply of personal protection equipment and Covid-19 tests at his house.

According to charges, Morales was part of an organized ring of politicians and members of influencial families that sold supplies to hospitals at mark-ups of as much as 1000 percent. Also charged in the June 3 raids were former President Abdalá Bucaram and his two sons, who are living in Miami.

A rising star in Ecuador’s Christian Social political party, Morales was also one of Ecuador’s biggest football stars when he played goalkeeper for the Guayaquil-Barcelona team in the 1990s. He was a member of several national teams and earned a reputation for making spectacular saves.

Before entering politics, Morales was a news announcer for Ecuavisa and Gama Tv.

According to journalist José Hernández, Morales’s death serves as a “very sad symbol” of corruption in Ecuador. “The death simply adds to the drama of the chaotic and collapsing story of greed that the country is living through,” Hernández said. “The material is suitable for a Netflix series or even a fable by García Márquez.”