Grisly killings stoke cartel fears in Ecuador

An armored vehicle leaves the Guayas #1 prison en Guayaquil, Ecuador on February 3, 2022, after authorities reported riots; Now the bodies of two men strung up in the style of Mexican cartel executioners has stunned Ecuador

The bodies of two men hung from a pedestrian bridge in southwestern Ecuador stunned the country Monday and raised the spectre of Mexican cartels there. 

The victims were killed, tied up and suspended by the same rope on a pedestrian bridge in Duran, a city near Guayaquil, Ecuador’s biggest city, police said. 

As the South American country faces an upsurge in violence linked to drug trafficking, the national press has stressed the singularity of the incident.

The two men had been missing since February 11, according to police, and an investigation was underway into their abduction. 

The crime could be linked to “the capture of seven tons of cocaine” Sunday in the port of Guayaquil, the commander of the zone, Marcelo Cortez, said. 

One of the victims has already been identified by the media as Carlos Alberto Escobar. He was 34 years old and was recognized by a tattoo. 

In the past four months, five decapitated people have been found in Duran and Guayaquil, the region hardest hit by the violence which authorities link to conflicts between local groups of drug traffickers with ties to powerful Mexican cartels.

These rivalries are at the root of the deadly violence that has plagued Ecuadoran prisons for months, in particular the huge prison complex in Guayaquil, where around 320 inmates were killed in a riot last year. 

Ecuador was for years a transit point for cocaine produced in Colombia and Peru- bordering countries and the world’s leading suppliers of this drug but the intelligence services believe that this lucrative enterprise is now deeply rooted within the country itself. 

“The country is under attack by an international mafia of drug cartels,” a presidential official said in November.

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