Quito, Jan 21 (EFE).-
Ecuadorian police on Sunday detained 68 people who allegedly tried to take over a medical center in the coastal province of Guayas to protect one of their members who had been shot and needed treatment.
In a statement, police said that the individual died as a result of the severity of his injuries.
Police arrived at the health center in the early morning and were able to take control after a confrontation, they then searched a purported drug rehabilitation center near the hospital where it found the alleged gang members, firearms, ammunition, radios, surveillance cameras, a stolen motorcycle and controlled substances.
Colonel Julio Camacho, deputy police commander, said the place was used as a command center for illegal operations and as a clandestine brothel with underage victims of sexual exploitation, but made no mention of anyone having been rescued.
The police published a video on their social media showing some 20 men in their underwear lying on the ground with their hands behind their heads and another video of the men, with their hands still tied behind their backs, entering a bus guarded by officers.
On Jan. 8, Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa imposed a state of emergency with a night curfew, and the next day decreed an “internal armed conflict,” which enabled him to use the army against organized crime groups.
In recent weeks, a series of attacks and violence attributed to these groups have included the assassination of a prosecutor, the killing and kidnapping of police officers, explosions, burned vehicles, a prison riot in which 200 hostages were held, and the seizure of a television station by armed hooded men.
Ecuador’s president, Daniel Noboa, has described the organized crime gangs as terrorist groups and belligerent non-state actors that must be neutralized by the armed forces, which are now in charge of the country’s security.
This crisis began with the escape from prison of Adolfo Macias “Fito”, leader of the criminal gang “Los Choneros,” just before he was to be transferred and isolated in a maximum security prison. EFE