Gruesome killings stoke cartel fears in Ecuador


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Duran (Ecuador) (AFP) – The bodies of two men hanging from a pedestrian bridge in southwestern Ecuador stunned the country on Monday and raised the specter of Mexican cartels.

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

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

Both men had been missing since February 11, police said, and an investigation was ongoing into their abduction.

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

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

In the past four months, five decapitated people have been found in Duran and Guayaquil, the region hardest hit by violence that authorities link to disputes between local drug trafficking groups linked to powerful Mexican cartels.

These rivalries are at the root of the deadly violence that has raged for months in Ecuadorian prisons, notably in the huge prison complex of 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 – neighboring countries and the world’s top suppliers of the drug – but intelligence services believe the lucrative business is now deeply rooted in the country itself. .

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

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