State of emergency in Ecuador city after explosion that killed five people

An explosion attributed to organized crime in Ecuador left five dead this Sunday and forced the president, Guillermo Lasso, to declare a state of exception in the coastal city of Guayaquil, one of the most affected by crime linked to drug trafficking.

"I have declared the city of Guayaquil in a State of Exception due to the criminal events that have taken place in the last few hours. The entire public force will be available to reestablish control of the city"said the president on Twitter.

Lasso, who took office a year ago, warned: "we will not allow organized crime to try to run the country"where the narco leaves scenes of terror in the streets with decapitated bodies hanging from bridges in the style of the Mexican cartels.

The state of emergency will take effect from this Sunday in this port of 2.8 million inhabitants in the southwest of the country and will last for 30 days, the National Secretary for Public and State Security, Diego Ordóñez, said at a press conference.

In April, Lasso declared a state of emergency for 60 days in the provinces of Esmeraldas, Manabí and Guayas, whose capital is Guayaquil, due to violence linked to drug trafficking.

The explosion occurred early this Sunday in the popular Cristo del Consuelo neighborhood left 5 dead who have been identified and have no criminal record, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo also said at a press conference.

The official specified that because of the detonation there are 17 wounded, some with priors. "Many of them, if not the majority, are taking refuge in silence and do not want to contribute with the investigation"he indicated.

Earlier, authorities had reported 20 people with injuries.

War declaration

When the incident became known, Carrillo expressed on Twitter that the explosion was "a declaration of war on the state" and attributed it to "organized crime mercenaries".

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"Either we unite to confront it (organized crime) or the price will be even higher for society"the minister tweeted.

The investigations indicate that two people aboard a motorcycle arrived in the neighborhood and near a restaurant "they placed a sack" in which it is presumed that "there was a high explosive"General Víctor Zárate, commander of zone 8, to which Guayaquil belongs, told the press.

The explosion affected eight houses, four vehicles and a motorcycle. The houses lost their walls and it was possible to see inside.

On the streets and cars there were fallen power lines, and a trail of blood was observed on the trunk door of a vehicle.

The government has offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who turns in information about the case.

Once-peaceful Ecuador, sandwiched between Colombia and Peru, the world’s largest cocaine producers, is facing rising drug-related violence. Last year the nation, with 18 million inhabitants, closed with a rate of 14 murders per 100,000 people, almost double that of 2020.

The clashes extend to the prisons, where since February 2021 there have been seven massacres with nearly 400 dead inmates. The authorities consider that It is about clashes between gangs linked to drug trafficking that dispute territories for sale.

The most recent report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), published in June, indicates that Ecuador in 2020 seized 6.5% of the total cocaine seized in the world.

In 2021, Ecuador seized a record 210 tons of drugs, most of them cocaine. In the first half of this year, seizures exceed 100 tons.

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