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Senior prosecutor shot dead

Drug cartels and state security forces in Ecuador are currently engaged in fierce battles. Now the public prosecutor who led the investigation into the sensational hostage-taking in a TV studio has been shot.

There is no end to the violence in Ecuador – although the army is now supporting the police in the fight against organized crime, there is no peace. Authorities have now announced that prosecutor César Suárez was shot dead in his car in the port city of Guayaquil, apparently by contract killers. Suárez had, among other things, investigated the suspected gang members who stormed a television station last week and took several hostages.

“The criminals and terrorists will not stop us,” Attorney General Diana Salazar said in a video in response to her colleague’s killing. “This crime will not go unpunished.”

Ecuador at war against the gangs

The South American country is facing an unprecedented wave of violence from drug cartels. The trigger was the escape of José Adolfo Macías alias “Fito”, one of the most powerful drug lords in the country, from the maximum security prison in Guayaquil. President Daniel Noboa then declared a state of emergency, deployed the army against organized crime and imposed a nighttime curfew. The gangs fought back and declared war on the state.

Ecuador lies between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest cocaine producers, but was long considered comparatively peaceful and stable. In recent years, the country itself has become a hub for international drug trafficking. Since then, violent crime has also increased massively. The murder rate was one of the highest in Latin America, at 46.5 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

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