AMERICA/ECUADOR - Drug traffickers ship cocaine in banana containers

Wednesday, 6 September 2023 drugs   criminality  

Quito (Agenzia Fides) - More than 9.5 tons of cocaine hidden in a shipment of bananas from Ecuador were seized last week by the Spanish authorities. This is proof of the collaboration of drug traffickers in one of the country's most important export sectors: Ecuador, the world's largest banana exporter, ships about 7.2 million tons of bananas by sea every year. Drug traffickers hide drugs in banana containers and use Ecuador as a hub on the drug trafficking route between Peru, Colombia and international markets. This latest development has unleashed unprecedented violence in the country for months, with shootings, killings, kidnappings and extortions becoming commonplace in cities like Guayaquil, the center of the banana trade. Also within this context the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio took place (see Fides, 10/8/2023) who had accused Ecuadorian gang Los Choneros and its leader who is in prison, of threatening him and his campaign days before the murder. Meanwhile, drug gangs from Mexico, Colombia and the Balkans also detonated two car bombs in the capital Quito on the night of August 30, while at the same time 57 prison guards and police officers in six prisons in the country were taken hostage (see Fides, 1/9/2023). The hostages were then released after 24 hours. The Ecuadorian authorities have not yet released any details about their release or the circumstances of the hostage-taking. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 6/9/2023)