With its lengthy coastline and proximity to coca-producing areas, Ecuador is the latest Latin American country to become a hub of drug trafficking plagued by rising violent crime. Murder rates have climbed over the last half-decade, and the country has recorded more homicides in 2022 than in any previous year. Successive presidents have tried to curb the trend, some with aggressive policing and others with a mix of security and socio-economic reform policies aimed at dimming the allure of illicit livelihoods. Through advocacy and periodic reporting, Crisis Group works to promote the latter approach to crime prevention, which has a better record of reducing violence throughout the region.

CrisisWatch Ecuador

Unchanged Situation

President Noboa announced state of emergency to counter criminal violence as probes into official corruption continued; govt closed consulates in Mexico. 

Noboa decreed state of emergency in seven provinces. Criminal violence remained high in drug trafficking hotspots, such as Guayas and Manabí provinces. Notably, in Guayas, authorities in port city of Guayaquil 9 May recorded nineteen violent deaths, including massacre of six people in neighbourhood of Nueva Prosperina district, one of Ecuador’s most violent areas; and in canton of Durán, local gang 14 May killed six. In Manabí, attackers 25-26 May killed seven across Manta, Montecristi and Jaramijó cities. President Noboa 22 May declared state of emergency in Guayas, El Oro, Santa Elena, Manabí, Sucumbios, Orellana and Los Rios provinces, as well as one area of Azuay province, citing rise in violent deaths and other crimes. Meanwhile, anti-corruption efforts continued. Notably, Police and Prosecutor’s Office 14 May arrested seven police officers and two civilians for their possible participation in corruption network that marketed and transported fuel used in illegal mining. 

Fallout with Mexico over embassy raid continued. Relations with Mexico continued to deteriorate after latter severed ties with Quito over embassy raid and arrest of former VP Jorge Glas in April. Foreign Ministry 16 May closed its consulates in Mexico, having late April announced it was filing lawsuit against Mexico before International Court of Justice for granting Glas asylum. FM Sommerfeld 28 May expressed willingness for dialogue, which Mexico’s FM next day rejected.

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In The News

18 jan 2024
Political misrule in Ecuador paled in comparison to what you saw … in Peru, and now Ecuador seems far worse off than Peru and Colombia in terms of basic human security. Miami Herald

Ivan Briscoe

Senior Director for Policy

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