Narco boss’ influence extended to the national and local governments, ‘Metastasis’ evidence shows

Dec 26, 2023 | 0 comments

Although early revelations of the Attorney General’s “Operation Metastasis” focused on the corruption of judges, police and prison officials, the evidence also shows the influence a powerful crime boss exerted in national and local governments.

Photo of former Assemblyman Ronny Aleaga, second from left, was taken at Xavier Jordan’s home in Miami. Leonardo Cortázar (with glasses) is next to Aleaga while Jordan is seated.

Phone and text transcripts reveal efforts within the National Assembly to attack assembly members, including assassinated presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, for claiming that some Assembly members were working for criminal gangs. Drug lord Leandro Norero, alias ‘El Patrón’, was in close contact with Assemblyman Ronny Aleaga, directing him to “take all necessary action” to discredit Villavicencio. In the transcripts, Norero tells Aleaga that Villavicencio “is onto us” and must be silenced.

Norero and Aleaga were particularly angered when Villavicencio posted a photo of a 2022 Miami pool party on his website, Investigative Journalism.

In the photo, Aleaga is pictured in a swimming pool at the Miami home of Xavier Jordán, an associate of Norero and a fugitive suspected of defrauding Ecuador public hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, the photo includes Leonardo Cortázar, subsequently charged in the “Encuentro” case for involvement in crimes directed by Danilo Carrera, brother-in-law of former President Guillermo Lasso.

Aleaga, a member of the Correista Citizens Revolution bloc, filed charges of “hate crimes, violation of privacy and slander” against Villavicencio with the state prosecutor. A second Citizens Revolution Assembly member, Patricia Núñez, accused Villavicencio of operating a criminal pharmaceutical scheme. Evidence from the Metastasis investigation subsequently validated Villavicencio’s charges against Aleaga and Núñez admitted her claim was based on “bad information.”

“Aleaga was on Norero’s payroll the day he was elected to the Assembly and served Norero’s interests during his time in office,” says Attorney General Diana Salazar.

Besides working with Aleaga in the Assembly, Norero’s criminal network also targeted municipal and provincial governments.

After the July 23 assassination of Manta Mayor Agustín Intriago made international headlines, supporters claimed his murder was the result of standing up to drug gangs. The Metastasis evidence confirmed, however, earlier claims by Villavicencio that Intriago had connections to Norero and was channeling public works to Norero’s business interests and those of his associates. According to the Attorney General’s investigation, Intriago worked with Helive A., alias Estimado, one of the 38 arrested in the case, and one of Norero’s subordinates.

Other Metastasis evidence suggests that Santa Elena Prefect José Daniel Villao and Salinas Mayor Daniel Cisneros supported Jordán and Norero to obtain public contracts.

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