Military to join fight against coastal crime gangs; 85% of Cuenca seniors are vaccinated; No Ecuadorians are among the missing in Miami condo collapse

Jun 27, 2021 | 14 comments

Overwhelmed by increasing crime in the coastal provinces, most of it drug related, Ecuador’s National Police are turning the military for help. Jorge Cabrera, head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces, said he would assign personnel and material to assist in the fight against drug trafficking. “The activity is increasing and we recognize it as a national security threat that must be put down,” he said. “Although our role will primarily be to provide equipment and supplies to police, we will be available with troops if necessary.”

Although at least 18 Latin Americans are among the missing in the collapse of a Miami condominium, none are believed to be from Ecuador authorities say.

National Police report that murder rates in Guayas, Manabí and Esmeraldas provinces are soaring, the the result of turf wars among gangs, most of them associated with Colombian and Mexican drug cartels. Murders are up 175 percent in Manabí compared to 2020 while the rate has almost doubled in Guayas and Esmeraldas. Police say most murders are designated “hits” related to the offshore transport of drugs from Peru to Colombia and the U.S. “The drugs are being off-loaded in or near the ports in Guayaquil, Manta and Esmeraldas, sometimes in shipping containers involving the bribery of dock workers,” the Guayaquil National Police command said.

According to the command, military assistance is needed to breach the sophisticated security systems that protect the leadership of the gangs. “They receive instructions from Mexico and Colombia, from people with years of experience in eluding law enforcement, and we lack the technology and manpower to combat this,” Jorge Ramirez of the Guayaquil police command says. “Some of their tactics very basic, such as posting ‘bell-ringers’ in the barrios to alert leaders when police approach. Two weeks ago, a sergeant was killed in Paraíso de la Flor [Guayaquil] when he attempted to make an arrest.”

Ramirez added that the gang strongholds in Guayaqauil, Manta and Esmerladas are near waterways where drug storage facilities are located. He said more than a dozen gangs are involved in the trade — and in the murders — although the Los Tiguerones and Los Choneros are the most dominant. “Last Wednesday, in a single afternoon, there were 11 murders recorded in Guayaqauil, Manta and Esmerladas provinces, all but one of them related to gang activity.”

No Ecuadorians among missing in Miami building collapse
Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry reported Friday that it does not believe any Ecuadorians are among the 156 people missing in the collapse of the Miami Beach Champlain Towers condominium. “We continue to check but we have no information to date of Ecuadorians involved in the Miami tragedy,” the ministry said

Miami-Dade Police said it believes that there are at least 18 Latin Americans among the those unaccounted for in the collapse. They include residents of Paraguay, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay.

85% of those over 65 have received at least one vaccine dose in Azuay
The regional Ministry of Health office reports that 85.03 percent of Azuay Province residents 65 years or older have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with 65 percent receiving two.

In addition, at least one dose has been administered to 36 percent of residents 50 to 64 of age and 11.5 percent for those 16 to 49. The ministry says it is concerned about the number of residents eligible for vaccines who have not shown up at vaccination centers and says it will begin contacting no-shows on Monday.

Motorcycle crack-down
Twenty-two motorcycles were taken into custody Thursday and Friday nights as the Cuenca transportation authority, EMOV, cracked down on traffic and noise violations. In addition, 17 citations were issued for a variety of violations, including lack of registrations and driver’s licenses.

EMOV said it is setting up roadblocks in neighborhoods where it has received resident complaints. “The neighbors report they are endangered by reckless driving and are kept awake at night by sound of the motorcycles,” a spokesman said. “We are also responding to the general problem of traffic violations committed by drivers, including improper lane movement and violation of stop signs and traffic signals.” He add that the roadblocks will continue for the foreseeable future.