QUITO, October 19 (Reuters) – Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in the Andean country on Monday evening as part of the crackdown on drug use and trafficking.
Lasso, a conservative who took office in May, said the move was a response to rising numbers of nationwide homicides and other crimes related to narcotics seizures, which total up to 147 tons. ‘now this year.
“In the streets of Ecuador, there is only one enemy: drug trafficking,” Lasso said on a TV show. “When drug trafficking grows, assassinations and homicides, thefts of homes, vehicles, property and people also increase.”
“Our military and police forces will be strongly felt in the streets,” he said.
The 60-day state of emergency will allow the military to join drug and weapons confiscation operations in nine of the country’s 24 provinces, including Guayas, home to the large city of Guayaquil, Lasso said. . Patrols will take place 24 hours a day.
In the rest of the country, the police will increase patrols and control efforts in public places.
More than 70% of violent deaths in Guayas province are “in one way or another” linked to drug trafficking, Lasso said.
Violent deaths have also increased in prisons. Last month, 119 people were killed in unrest at a Guayaquil prison, which the government blamed on fighting between drug gangs. Read more
Lasso said he would sponsor legislation to support security forces in their efforts to fight crime and create an entity to defend officers prosecuted for “just doing their duty.”
“This government will forgive all those who have been unjustly convicted for doing their job,” the president said, asking judges to “guarantee peace and order, not impunity and crime”.
Reporting by Alexandra Valencia, written by Julia Symmes Cobb, editing by Steve Orlofsky
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