U.S. to help in Guayaquil bombing investigation, says it has ‘vested’ interest in stopping drug crime
A team of U.S. investigators will arrive in Guayaquil today to assist in the investigation of Sunday’s bombing in the Cristo del Consuelo neighborhood. The bombing killed five people and injured 17, seven of which remain in critical condition in local hospitals.
“Because of the extent of the damage, especially the human toll, we have asked the international community to provide investigative and forensic help to find the perpetrators,” Government Minister Francisco Jimenez said Monday. “The U.S. has responded and is sending a team to help us.”
Brian Quigley, U.S. consul general in Guayaquil, confirmed his government’s offer of assistance. “We are sending a level nine team to help Ecuadorian police solve the crime,” he said Monday. “Level nine teams include our most experienced investigators who bring the most sophisticated technology to the effort.” He added that the U.S. is also donating $55,000 worth of bomb-proof suits to police.
Quigley said the U.S. government has been following the increase of drug-trafficking crime in Guayaquil and other ports in recent months. “We have assured the authorities that they can count on the U.S. to combat organized crime, particularly as it relates to illegal drug activity. Since much of the drugs shipped from Ecuador ports are destined for the U.S., we have a vested interested in stopping it as well as the associated criminal activity.”
Sunday’s bombing, which damaged 11 houses and destroyed several vehicles, was the largest in a series of recent bombings in the Guayaquil area. All are believed linked to illegal drug activity. “We consider the bombing to be retaliation against drug gang members for recent law enforcement seizures at the port of Guayaquil,” Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said during a visit to the bomb site on Monday. “When we seize large amounts of drugs, we notice that killings increase, probably as punishment for those handling the shipments.”
Carrillo says the bombings and shootings have the secondary purpose of instilling fear in neighborhoods where drug traffickers live and work. “In most of our investigations we find that local residents are unwilling to talk to investigators because they are afraid of retaliation if they do.”
Carrillo said there have been 115 incidents involving explosive devices so far in 2022, most of them in Guayas Province, but also in Manabi and Esmeraldas, where other ports are located. “Most of these are small explosions but eight people have been killed.”