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  • 1440 Daily Digest

Ecuador Under Siege

At least 12 people have died and over 130 prison workers have been held hostage amid widespread gang violence—including a brief takeover of a live TV station—in

sparked by the weekend prison escape of a high-ranking gang leader. The nation’s new president, Daniel Noboa, announced a 60-day state of emergency in response. 

The upheaval came on the heels of the Saturday escape of 44-year-old drug lord José Adolfo Macías Villamar—also known as “Fito”—as he was serving a 34-year sentence for homicide and drug crimes. Fito is the leader of Los Choneros, an established drug-trafficking group that has seen its influence decline. Reports allege the group may have been behind last year’s assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.

Ecuador's homicide rate has increased by over 500% since 2016 amid increased gang warfare, with an estimated quarter of the country’s prisons controlled by various syndicates. The 35-year-old Noboa has promised to build new high-security prisons for gang leaders and plans a referendum to increase security measures against organized crime.

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