U.S. offers $5 million reward for the capture of the masterminds of Villavicencio’s assassination
The U.S. is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of those behind the killing of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday. “We understand that the man who pulled the trigger is dead, but we want to bring to justice those who orchestrated the assassination plot,” Blinkin said in a statement.
Villavicencio, a former lawmaker and crusading anti-corruption journalist, was gunned down in Quito on Aug. 9, less than two weeks before the presidential election. Ecuadorian police have arrested six suspects, all Colombians belonging to criminal groups. The killer, a 17-year-old Colombian, died in a shootout with police following the assassination.
In addition to the $5 million reward, Blinken also announced a $1 million reward for information leading to the identification or location of any individual holding a key leadership position in the group responsible for Villavicencio’s death. “The United States will continue to support the people of Ecuador and work to bring to justice individuals who seek to undermine democratic processes through violent crime,” Blinken said.
Although the U.S. FBI is involved in the investigation, police and prosecutors in Quito say progress in determining the masterminds of the assassination has been slow. “Although we have evidence that the murder was ordered by leaders of a criminal gang, and possibly an international drug cartel, there were four or five middlemen between the leadership and the gunman,” a police spokeman said last week. “The job of the investigation is to follow the orders up the chain of command to find those ultimately responsible.”