Guayaquil, violence between drug traffickers for control of the territory

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Ten people were killed and three wounded in a shooting on Saturday in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s economic powerhouse and the scene of violent clashes related to cocaine trafficking.

On Saturday night a group of people were watching soccer in a garage when a group of armed men got out of a van and opened fire “with long weapons,” General William Villaroel told reporters.

In the early hours of Sunday, in the mechanical workshop where the attack took place, bodies could be seen lying on the sidewalk, in the middle of pools of blood. All around, people were crying and hugging each other as police cordoned off the scene, the France Presse news agency (AFP) reported.

“There was a shooting (in a local) where several people were drinking (drinking), they came with motorized vehicles and ended the lives of those who were here” watching a soccer match, a witness who preferred not to be identified told AFP.

“We believe that it is a fight by organized criminal groups, it is a fight for power, for territory” for drug transport, police said. At the moment, it has not been revealed if there have been detainees, but the authorities reported that five of the deceased had criminal records for robbery, drug trafficking and possession of weapons.

Guayaquil is one of the cities hardest hit by drug trafficking and violence that devastate this South American country, whose position in the Pacific is strategic for the shipment of drugs to the United States and Europe.

The city has been in a state of emergency since April 1, a mechanism that allows the military to be mobilized into the streets and implement curfews. The coastal provinces of Santa Elena, Los Ríos and Esmeraldas are also in emergency.

Violence in the prisons of rival groups

The government maintains that the violence is the product of clashes between criminal gangs linked to drug trafficking, which have turned prisons into their centers of operations and a battlefield between factions.

Clashes between inmates have left more than 420 prisoners dead since 2021, while in the streets the homicide rate almost doubled between that year and 2022, from 14 to 25 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to authorities.

Between January and April 1, only in the cities of Guayaquil, Durán and Samborondón, 555 homicides were registered, according to the authorities. (with AFP)

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