Drug Gangs Take Over TV Station, Prisons in Ecuador

(AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

I saw videos on X showing some of the chaos happening in Ecuador today. It really looks like something out of a movie. We’ll get to the video in a moment but first here’s the backstory. Sunday, one of Ecuador’s most notorious gang leaders escaped from prison. That led Ecuador’s president to declare a state of emergency and a massive manhunt was underway Monday.


Ecuador has declared a state of emergency after one of the country’s most dangerous criminals vanished from his cell and prison guards were overpowered and taken hostage amid riots at prisons across the country.

A huge manhunt was under way on Monday as thousands of soldiers and police searched for Adolfo Macías, alias Fito, the convicted leader of the powerful drug gang Los Choneros.

The 44-year-old drug lord was reported missing on Sunday after he disappeared from the prison in the port city of Guayaquil where he was serving his sentence just before he was due to be transferred to a maximum security facility in the same city…

Macías had been serving a 34-year sentence since 2011, convicted of drug trafficking, murder and organized crime.

Drug gangs and related crime have been a major issue in Ecuador for several years. Last year a presidential candidate named Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated as he left a campaign event. Fito, the escaped gang leader, had made threats against him just days earlier. Current president, Daniel Noboa has only been in office for two months. He ran on a platform of cracking down on crime so Fito’s escape is bad news for him.

The escape Sunday was only part of what was going on. At the same time, there seems to be a coordinated attack by gang members against the prison system. There were riots which led to prisoners taking over and threatening to kill guards in at least five prisons.

Ecuador’s security forces are trying to re-establish order in at least six jails where riots broke out on Monday.

Inmates have reportedly taken a number of prison guards hostage and have threatened to kill them if soldiers are deployed to regain control of the penitentiaries.

Four police officers were also kidnapped after President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency.


The kidnappers released videos of the hostages:

There are a couple of videos out there, which I won’t post here, showing the gang members executing some of the guards. Meanwhile, the violence hasn’t been limited to prisons. Cars are being burned in the streets.

There was an attempt to take over the University of Guayaquil which led to scenes of people trying to flee.

This next clip is from the city of Cuenca where there is reportedly a shootout taking place in the streets.


It’s just scenes of chaos everywhere.

Also today, a group of gang members broke into a TV station. The whole thing was broadcast live.

In response to this President Noboa has ordered designated the gangs as terrorists and ordered the military to kill them at will:

The men armed with pistols and what looked like sticks of dynamite entered the set of the TC Television network in the port city of Guayaquil and shouted that they had bombs. Noises similar to gunshots could be heard in the background. It was not immediately clear if any station personnel were injured…

Shortly after the gunmen stormed the TV station, Noboa issued another decree designating 20 drug trafficking gangs operating in the country as terrorist groups and authorizing Ecuador’s military to “neutralize” these groups within the bounds of international humanitarian law.

Ecuador’s national police chief announced a short time later that authorities had arrested all the masked intruders. Police commander César Zapata told the TV channel Teleamazonas that officers seized the guns and explosives the gunmen had with them. He didn’t say how many people were arrested.


They guys who took over the TV station seem to be in custody now.

Is this martial law? I see some people suggesting it’s a civil war. I guess we’ll need to see where it goes but as of today the gangs really do seem to be doing anything they can to cover the tracks of the escaped gang leader. Authorities are simply too busy to worry about recapturing him right now.

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