Guns, explosives, sex toys and tunnels found in prisons; EU offers assistance in drug fight; 22 tons of cocaine destroyed; Noboa, Salazar rate high in poll

Jan 26, 2024 | 0 comments

The joint National Police and Armed Forces command says it has confiscated an “incredible collection of lethal and unauthorized items” from the country’s prisons in eight days of security sweeps. The command says inspections are “ongoing” at eight prisons and will continue until all institutions are secure.

Among the items seized, according to a command statement, are 780 firearms and knives, including seven machine guns, 3,500 rounds of ammunition, 155 hand grenades, 178 kilos of various types of explosives, three chain saws and 37 machetes. In addition, more than 500 cell phones, laptop computers and tablets were seized as well as a large amount of communication equipment.

Soldiers display communication equipment, including television satellite dishes, confiscated from the Turi prison in Cuenca.

Authorities also collected hundreds of kilos of illegal drugs and thousands of liters of alcohol. Among “unusual items and equipment” taken from prison hiding places, the command listed 13 inflatable sex dolls, “both female and male,” two cases of lipstick and 200 kilos of Oreo cookies.

Sonar equipment used in the searches also revealed underground tunnels at the Turi, Cotopaxi and Guayaquil prisons. The command says the tunnels appear to connect cell blocks and do not offer escape routes.

European Union offers assistance in drug fight
The European Union plans to join the United States in providing technical and expert assistance to Ecuador in the fight against narco traffickers. An agreement of cooperation will be signed “very quickly,” EU Home Affairs Minister Ylva Johansson said on Wednesday.

“The agreement, which will also include Mexico, Peru and Brazil, will be similar to one we have with Colombia to help combat drug trafficking,” Johansson said. He added that Ecuador needs special consideration due to its role as a major export center of cocaine to Europe.

“We are establishing a center of police cooperation to provide advice and material to Ecuador,” Johansson said. “Because of the rapidly growing cocaine addiction problem in Europe and recent incidents of drug-related violence Belgium and the Netherlands, it is in the EU’s interest to assist Ecuador and other Latin American countries in their battle against the illegal drug trade.”

22 tons of cocaine is destroyed
The Government Ministry reports that the 22 tons of cocaine seized Sunday in Los Ríos Province has been destroyed. The drug haul was shipped to Quito by truck where it underwent a process of “encapsulation.” According to the ministry, the process involves pulverization of the drugs, which are then mixed with cement, glass, gravel, sand, chemicals and water. After drying, the government said the product will be sold for the manufacture of construction products.

National Police said they decided on encapsulation due to the amount of drugs to be destroyed. “Because of the air pollution it would cause, we decided against burning, which is the standard method for destroying seized drugs,” a police captain said.

Police say they continue their search for the owner of the property in Los Ríos Province where the cocaine was found. He has been identified as Edgar Fabián M. and authorities say he purchased the property three years ago and owns other large tracts in Los Ríos and other provinces.

New poll rates Ecuadorian professions, institutions
The medical profession is the most respected by Ecuadorians, with business professionals rated second. In a new poll conducted by the Ipsos organization, doctors received an 85% approval rating while businesses received 57%.

Among government institutions, the armed forces are rated the most respected, at 82%, while the presidency (personified by Daniel Noboa) is second at 69%. The Attorney General’s office (in the person of Diana Salazar) rates third highest at 53%. Other favorability ratings are the judicial system at 15% and the National Assembly at 12%.

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