Following the jail break of a notorious drug lord, gunmen broke into a public television station in Ecuador one day after the president of that country declared a state of emergency.
On Tuesday, masked attackers barged into the TC Television network’s set in the port city of Guayaquil and declared they had bombs.
There were background sounds that sounded like gunfire. Before the signal was lost, the channel was operational for a minimum of fifteen minutes. A “don’t shoot” cry could be heard and staff were spotted lying down on the floor while the broadcast was in operation.
Later, a commander of Ecuadorian police announced that all 13 gunmen had been taken into custody. The males, who were also carrying grenades, will allegedly be charged by police as members of the Los Tiguerones gang.
Leonardo Flores Moreno, the TC news coordinator and reporter, informed Reuters that two TC employees had sustained injuries.
Alina Manrique, the head of news for TC Television, stated that when the masked guys broke into the facility, she was in the control room, which is located across from the studio. According to Ms. Manrique, one of them ordered her to get on the ground while pointing a gun at her head.
President Daniel Noboa, who took office on Monday, established a nationwide curfew for the night and issued a 60-day state of emergency, permitting military patrols throughout the country’s jails and streets.
Authorities reported that at least seven police officers had been kidnapped in a string of attacks across the nation prior to the television studio being assaulted.
Three of the abducted cops were shown in a video making the rounds on social media sitting on the ground with a gun aimed at them while one was made to make a statement meant for Mr. Noboa. Cars were set on fire in multiple places, and there was an explosion close to the president of the National Justice Court’s residence.
Notoriety gang leader Fito’s escape
On Sunday, as authorities were checking his Guayaquil jail, he went missing. That day was supposed to see the transfer of the formidable Los Choneros gang leader to a high security institution.
Fito was 34 years into a 34-year sentence for organized crime and narcotics trafficking. The assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio last year marked a new high in violence, which is attributed to Los Choneros.
The anti-cartel candidate claimed to have received threats from Fito a week prior to his passing. Fito previously broke out of jail in 2013, but he was apprehended again after three months.
Officials reported on Tuesday that Fabricio Colon Pico, the leader of Los Lobos, another drug lord, escaped from prison after being apprehended on suspicion of participating in an attempt to kill Ecuador’s attorney general.
Growing violence in Ecuador
The drug trade has been linked to an increase in violence in Ecuador in recent years, including murders and kidnappings.
Ecuador, which was formerly thought to be a tranquil oasis positioned between the two biggest cocaine exporters, Colombia and Peru, has witnessed a surge in violence as rival groups connected to the Mexican and Colombian cartels fight for dominance.
Since 2018, the number of murders has increased significantly; in 2023, there were over 7,800 homicides nationwide and 220 tonnes of drugs were recovered.
After taking office in November, Mr. Noboa—the son of one of the richest men in the nation—promised to stop violence caused by the drug trade. In a revised decree released on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Noboa declared that he recognized a “internal armed conflict” in Ecuador and designated a number of criminal gangs, including Los Choneros, as terrorist organizations.