Six Suspects in Assassination of Ecuador Presidential Candidate Killed in Prison

Six Suspects in Assassination of Ecuador Presidential Candidate Killed in Prison

Six suspects involved in the assassination of Ecuador presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio were killed in Guayas 1 prison in Guayaquil, officials confirmed. The suspects, all of Colombian nationality, were accused of the murder of Villavicencio, a prominent journalist and anti-corruption crusader. Villavicencio was fatally shot as he left a campaign rally in Quito just days before the first round vote. The incident at the prison prompted Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso to cut short his international trip and return to handle the situation.

The public prosecutor’s office, along with police and the military, is executing security protocols in response to the disturbance that occurred at Guayas 1 prison. Specialized military personnel will conduct raids and reconnaissance in Cellblock 7, where the incidents originated, to regain control.

Guayas 1 prison is part of a larger prison complex in Guayaquil, a city plagued by a turf war between rival drug-trafficking gangs. The assassination of Villavicencio, who had been polling in second place, highlighted the issues of corruption and declining security in Ecuador. The suspects, with long criminal records, were arrested shortly after the assassination, while one was killed at the crime scene.

Villavicencio had conducted numerous investigations, including exposing a significant graft network that led to the sentencing of former president Rafael Correa. Correa has been in exile in Belgium for six years to avoid imprisonment. Villavicencio’s outspokenness against drug cartels and gangs made him a target, as many of these criminal organizations operate from within Ecuadorian prisons.

The prisons crisis, marked by violence and gang disputes, has become a central topic of debate ahead of the second round election on October 15. The candidates, Luisa Gonzalez and Daniel Noboa, have differing approaches to address the issue. Noboa has proposed leasing ships to hold the country’s most violent prisoners offshore.

Ecuador has experienced a surge in homicides, with rates quadrupling between 2018 and 2022. The country’s strategic location between Colombia and Peru, the world’s largest cocaine producers, has made it a target for drug cartels. The lax controls, widespread corruption, and dollarized economy have contributed to the rise in drug trafficking and related violence.

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

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