A seventh suspect accused in the August assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was killed inside a prison in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, authorities confirmed on Saturday. This comes a day after six other individuals allegedly linked to the crime were slain in a different prison. The prison system released a press statement confirming the incident but provided no details on how it occurred. The identity of the deceased suspect was disclosed as “José M.,” without specifying his nationality.
The six Colombian men charged in the assassination of Fernando Villavicencio on August 9 were killed on Friday inside a prison in Guayaquil. In response to these incidents, President Guillermo Lasso called for an emergency meeting of his security Cabinet. The meeting resulted in the decision to transfer the remaining six suspects to a different prison, although the specific location was not disclosed for security reasons. Additionally, the government announced the dismissal of the prisons system director and the police chief of investigations.
The killings occurred as the Prosecutor’s Office is expected to conclude the investigation stage into the assassination of Fernando Villavicencio soon. The 59-year-old politician, who was gunned down while leaving a political rally, was not initially considered a front-runner in the election’s first round on August 20. However, his broad daylight killing served as a shocking reminder of the rising crime rates in Ecuador. Villavicencio had reported receiving threats from affiliates of the Sinaloa drug cartel, one of the many international organized crime groups operating in the country.
Ecuador is set to hold the presidential runoff election on October 15, with leftist candidate Luisa González and former lawmaker Daniel Noboa, son of a banana tycoon, as the top contenders.