The US State Department has announced a reward of US$5 million for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the murder of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio. Villavicencio was killed last month in Quito. Additionally, the State Department is offering up to US$1 million for any leads that can help identify high-ranking members of the criminal group involved in the assassination.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has sent a team to Quito to assist local authorities in their investigation. So far, six Colombian nationals believed to be part of an organized criminal group have been arrested. The State Department emphasized that the investigative work is ongoing and efforts are being made to identify others involved in the assassination.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the United States stands with the people of Ecuador and is committed to bringing individuals who seek to undermine democratic processes through violent crime to justice.
To provide information, individuals can email Informa@recompensas131.org or call the 131 line in Ecuador. Both Ecuadorian and US authorities have assured that all information will remain anonymous and strictly confidential.
Fernando Villavicencio, a former journalist known for his criticism of organized crime, had reported receiving threats from José Adolfo Macías Villamar, also known as “Fito,” who is identified as the leader of Los Choneros, a group with links to the Mexican Sinaloa cartel.
In a separate incident, Villavicencio’s widow, Verónica Sarauz, was attacked this week in Quito. Journalist Christian Zurita, who replaced Villavicencio on the electoral ticket but did not make it to the runoff, reported the attack. Sarauz was unharmed, thanks to her security capsule.