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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Ecuador Designates Cartel Linked Gangs as Terrorist Groups, TV Station Stormed by Gunmen

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

President Daniel Noboa declared an internal armed conflict and classified 22 transnational organized crime groups as terrorist organizations.

Jaime Vela, head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces of Ecuador, said that "every terrorist group is a military objective." Previously, after several violent events that occurred in recent days including the prison escape of a notorious gang leader. On Monday, Ecuador declared a state of emergency and a curfew.

Vela assured that they will not retreat or negotiate with groups that intend to instill terror in the population. “We are not going to back down or negotiate”

“President of the Republic, Daniel Noboa, through Executive Decree 111, established a very clear mission for us: from this moment on, every terrorist group identified in the decree as mentioned has become a military objective.”

The “present and future of our country is at stake” and “no act of terror” will make them give up. “Good, justice and order cannot ask permission or bow their heads to terrorists,” he said.

22 Terrorist Gangs

The Decree also orders the Armed Forces to carry out military operations, under international humanitarian law and respect human rights, to neutralize the groups identified below.

The following transnational organized crime groups are now being identified as terrorist organizations and non-state bad actors.

Caballeros Oscuros
Los Choneros
Cuartel de las Feas
Kater Piler
Latin Kings
Los Lobos
Los p.2
Los Tiburones
Mafia 18
Mafia Trébol

Since 2021, more than 400 deaths have been reported in Ecuador's prisons due to clashes between rival gangs. The Ecuadorian prison gangs are said to generate over $120 million per year in profits from the illicit businesses and drug trafficking controlled from prisons.

The Penitenciaría del Litoral and the Regional correctional facilities, which are both within the same compound, are the most populated prisons in Ecuador. They are located in Guayaquil, and they hold 10,000 inmates, more than a quarter of the country’s entire prison population.

The convicts are in control. Not only do they run the 15 units inside the prison compound, but they also control the drug trafficking and organized crime activities that take place on the outside. It is they who decide who gets to come in and who doesn’t. They even have the keys to their own cells.

Previous Ecuadorian governments had also decreed a state of emergency seeking to address the prison and security crisis they have faced since the country became a key transit point on the cocaine route.

The homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants has increased more than 300% in the last seven years and several high-profile politicians and candidates have been murdered, as was the case of Fernando Villavicencio in August of last year before the elections.

President Noboa's security plan includes a new intelligence unit, tactical weapons for law enforcement and security, and a plan to temporarily hold dangerous prisoners on prison ships. He has proposed a referendum that is pending approval by the authorities and with which he seeks citizen support to take tougher measures.

TV Takeover

An armed takeover by gang members of the TC Television news station in Guayaquil ended with the arrest of at least thirteen and the release of the channel’s staff.

Around 2:00PM, over a dozen gunmen, many wearing masks and hoodies to conceal their identity in front of the television cameras took over the station as they were broadcasting live.

They pointed guns at journalist José Luis Calderón's head and then placed a stick of dynamite in the pocket of his suit jacket.

Hostages were taken and placed on their knees as the gang members waved weapons, and threw gang signs at the camera until specialized units of the Ecuadorian police arrived, entered the studio, arrested 13 of those involved, and rescued the hostage victims.

"We intervened, first setting up an external perimeter, we removed all the workers from the television station, and then the tactical units entered," explained the general commander of the Ecuadorian Police César Zapata.

Regarding those arrested, he indicated that "they will be handed over to the competent authority and the report will be related to acts of terrorism."

At the moment, the authorities believe that the detainees could be linked to the group “Los Tiguerones”. Firearms, grenades, explosive material, and two vehicles were seized.

Attacks in Ecuador

In addition to the attack on the television station, at least seven police officers were kidnapped in various regions of the country.

Explosions were also reported in Esmeraldas, Los Ríos, Loja, and Machala. Authorities are investigating an explosion in the Mayor's office of Cuenca and another in Guayaquil.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the explosions. The Guayaquil police reported that 8 people died in different events in that city, which recorded 29 incidents related to armed criminals, according to the local press.

Several countries and organizations, including South American countries and the US, have condemned the attacks and pledged support for Ecuador's government.

"We strongly condemn the recent criminal attacks by armed groups in Ecuador against private, public & government institutions," White House National Security Council Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement on social media. "We are committed to supporting Ecuadorians' security & prosperity & bolstering cooperation w/partners to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice."

Brian Nichols, the top US diplomat for Latin America, said Washington was "extremely concerned" by the violence and kidnappings, and pledged to provide assistance and to "remain in close contact" with Noboa's team.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described the gang activity as a "direct attack on democracy and the rule of law".

Peru put its border with Ecuador under a state of emergency. China's embassy and consulates in Ecuador announced on Wednesday that services to the public were suspended. The US, France, and Russia all advised their citizens against travel to Ecuador.

Some 139 prison guards have been kidnapped since Noboa declared a state of emergency on Monday. Previous states of emergency have been taken by his predecessors with little success in quelling gang violence in the country. Several have been executed in a similar manner to the video above.

Another video showed the guards on the floor, with knives and guns to their heads, forced to repeat the same message, that the government should reverse its decision to transfer prisoners.

Los Lobos Leader Escapes

In Riobamba, more than 30 inmates escaped from prison, among whom was Fabricio Colón Pico, the leader of the Los Lobos gang, accused a few days ago of planning the murder of Attorney General Diana Salazar. The US Embassy, as part of the Recompensas131 program that offered $5 Million for information on those responsible for the presidential candidate's assassination also announced rewards for information leading to the captures of the two escaped gang leaders.

Los Lobos are rivals of Los Choneros following a split in 2016 and ally themselves in coordination with the CJNG. They are considered the second largest gang in the country, as it is suspected to have around 8,000 members and has also participated in several of the prison riots that in 2022 left more than 400 dead.

Together with the Chone Killers and Los Tiguerones, Los Lobos have formed another organization called Nueva Generación, which would have carried out several attacks against leaders and territories controlled by Los Choneros.

Los Choneros became the dominant Ecuadorian gang in 2005 after a battle with the original gang of Ecuador, the Queseros who were founded in 1985.

Information shared by the US State Department indicates that a third of Colombia's cocaine passes through Ecuador before heading to North America and Europe. Ecuador's banana industry and its nearly 7.2 million metric tons that are exported to the entire world have become a key method of shipping cocaine to Europe. Most leave from the port of Guayaquil, which is coveted by Mexican, Brazilian, and Italian cartels.

Although the facilitation of drug trafficking and extortion from prisons are their main activities, in recent years they have found another source of income in the illegal extraction of gold. Thus, the local press claims that they charge a 10% tax on miners who operate illegally in areas such as the jungle province of Imbabura, in the north of the country.

They are also linked to the 48th Front, a dissident group of the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).


  1. OMG
    Ecuador is becoming infested of Cartels just like Mexico, now more likely Ecuadorians will seek asylum, yes you guessed it...USA.

  2. Choneros carry that CDS badge with honor . Only if they knew

    1. Perfect scenerio for the CDS to start snitching on them and getting more favors from the USA 😂

    2. Watch out for The Chelas Cartel.

  3. Fito had reunions with el mayo high level associates in prisión who are said to have pay for Fito to escape prisión in return for his routes that way cds could pass drugs through ecuador for free

    1. Yeah Fitos going to let CDS pass drug threw his territory for free another teenage boy and hisdumb comments.

    2. Fito esta frito

  4. Any possibility fito might be in Sinaloa?

    1. That video is from when they first transferred him following the candidate's assassination. He is still a fugitive.

    2. 2:52 they won’t take him in because he’s bringing the heat Mexican cartels won’t help him his on his own

    3. 2:52 mayo didn’t even want to help chapitos that are closed to him now imagine helping this dude from ecuador being hunted by police

    4. 2:52 si ahorita, siéntate a esperarlo jeje mayo won’t put his hands in the fire for no one special some Ecuadorian with a green light in his back

  5. Smart President to designate them as terrorist, opens the door for financial arms aid. Mexico behind the 8 ball again.

  6. Los kater pilers?
    Orale hasta los de la construcción andan vendiendo jale azul.

  7. I want to know more about the P.2 group 🤣🤣

  8. Is it true that cholos from Los Angeles busted him out of prison?

  9. ¿Que te dije?..
    Los lagartos son terroristas..

  10. That’s not a cartel ! They only had sticks, machetes, and handguns no m16 with grenade launcher no high caliber military weapons they’re just some hoodlums. Give a me break, did you guys see the vídeos

  11. Those dudes from ecuador were fighting in chanclas and in ripped bermudas shorts with shoes with no socks jejeje and they were all young and stupid that’s not cartel jeje they were firing 22L Shotguns lol 😂 delusionals

  12. Those supposedly “Cartels” on Ecuador only use Pistols mostly...they look just average gangsters with pistols..
    Unlike Mexican Cartels that went full Paramilitary since the rise of Los Zetas..they got ATGMs,Mortars and even makeshift tanks/APCs

  13. The existence on the drugwar in Ecuador negates the theory the Mexican cartels took over the Cocaine business.

  14. Ecuador is the new Mexico, thanks to Mexican cartels holding territory in that Country.

    1. There’s no cartel in Ecuador does are gangs

    2. You have it backwards. Mexico is the new South America.

  15. A fito le gusta el pito

  16. Good on the President for taking the stance that he is and not backing down. Mexico should take note.


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