One of South America’s most wanted men, alias ‘Satan,’ arrested in Loja; Electric bills headed higher, official says; Pichincha Province Prefecture raided

Nov 3, 2023 | 0 comments

The leader of the El Tren de Aragua criminal gang, Hernán David Landaeta, alias Satanás (Satan), was arrested Thursday in Loja Province. A native of Venezuela, Landaeta was listed as the “number one most wanted man” in Colombia, accused of orchestrating more than 100 murders.

According to the Colombian National Police Command, Landaeta was known for the viciousness of his crimes, which included dismemberments and disembowelments of victims, with their remains often displayed in public places. He is also accused of using hand grenades and other explosives in many of his crimes.

Hernán David Landaeta, alias Satan, center, following his Thursday arrest in Loja.

In a statement acknowledging his capture, Colombian authorities called Landaeta a “bloodthirsty madman,” who was known to operate “casas de pique” (pick houses) torture chambers in several locations. The statement added that he was known for mailing body parts to the families of victims.

Ecuadorian police say they do not know when Landaeta entered the country but say he was directing drug trafficking operations for at least eight months in Guayaquil.

Colombian police say Landaeta continued to order murders in Colombia and Venezuela from Ecuador. In one case, he announced the hits of 18 men and women Bogota and Medellin in a brochure titled, “Happiness and tranquility are priceless.”

His arrest near Loja followed an anonymous tip of a visit to a “love interest” near the Peruvian border. Landaeta is being held near the Ecuador-Colombia border and is expected to be flown to Bogota within a matter of days.

Pichincha Province Prefecture raided
The Pichincha Prefecture headquarters and a house in Guayas Province were raided Thursday afternoon by police to “collect evidence” in an embezzlement case. According to prosecutors, the allegations include the possible involvement of Pichincha Prefect Paola Pabón.

The Pichincha prosecutor’s office said it collected 16 boxes of documents and electronic evidence in a two-hour search of the prefecture. Pabón claimed the search of her office was “politically motivated” and criticized the fact that it was carried out on a national holiday.

Prosecutors did not provide information about the raid in Guayas Province, saying names of suspects would be released at the “appropriate time.”

Electric bills headed higher, official says
Ecuadorians should expect to pay “significantly more” for electricity in the future, according to Juan José Espinosa, Deputy Minister of Energy. “We must be honest that government subsidization of the energy system is not sustainable and is part of the reason we are today facing shortages,” he said.

Espinosa says a budget shortfall is a major reason electricity generation plants have not been expanded and upgraded, and the reason why new plants have not been built. “We simply do not have the money and it is time to make the changes to guarantee an ongoing supply of energy,” he said. “We are struggling, in fact, to pay our staff.”

He added that thermal power plants, fired by diesel and natural gas, are not the solution to the current crisis. “It is true that we need more of these facilities for emergency purposes, but they are not the answer to our problem. We have tremendous capacity to produce electricity through hydro, wind and solar methods. It costs ten times as much to produce it through thermal generation.”

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