State of emergency declared after notorious drug gang leader escaped from prison in Ecuador

Tuesday, January 9, 2024
 – A state of emergency has been declared in Ecuador after one of the country's most-notorious drug gang bosses escaped from prison.

Adolfo Macias - also known as Fito - was first reported missing from his cell on Sunday, Jan. 7.

Ecuador's prosecutors then filed charges against two prison guards as part of their investigation into the alleged escape.

The leader of the Los Choneros gang was serving a 34-year sentence in La Regional prison for drug trafficking and murder.

His reported escape occurred on the same day he was scheduled to be transferred to a maximum security facility in the city of Guayaquil.

President Daniel Noboa announced the state of emergency, which will allow the authorities to suspend citizens' rights and send the military into prisons.

The decree is in effect for 60 days, with Mr Noboa saying he will confront crime inside prisons and will not stop until he "brings back peace to all Ecuadorians".

It is the second time the convicted murderer has escaped from prison.

In 2013, Macias fled a maximum security prison but was recaptured a few weeks later. Police are investigating whether his most recent escape is similar to his escape from a decade ago.

Los Choneros is one of the gangs authorities consider responsible for a spike in violence that reached new highs last year with the assassination of the presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.

The gang has links with Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, according to authorities.

Mr Villavicencio had claimed Los Choneros threatened him, but authorities have been unable to formerly accuse Macias or his group for being behind the murder.

Even from within prison, Macias was believed to have been able to exert his influence over the gang, including control of drug trafficking routes and territory.

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