Police in Ecuador say they have arrested an alleged leader of Los Lobos, a powerful criminal organisation specialised in drug trafficking.
The man, named only as Jaime S. C, was armed and carrying a large sum of money when police stopped his luxury car in the port city of Puerto Bolívar. Gunmen believed to belong to his gang opened fire as the officers transferred Jaime S. C to police headquarters.
One policeman was injured in the shooting. Soldiers deployed to guard the police HQ where the suspect was locked up were later also fired upon.
In a statement, police said Jaime S. C was carrying $13,5000 (£11,000) whose provenance “he could not explain. ” Los Lobos (The Wolves) is said to have 8,000 members and has become one of the Andean country’s most powerful criminal organizations.
Many of the gang’s members are in prison, but the gang continues to operate behind bars and has been accused of instigating some of the bloodiest prison riots in Ecuador.
The gang is also believed to be affiliated with Mexico’s Jalisco New Generation (CJNG) cartel, which smuggles cocaine from Colombia through Ecuador’s port cities to the United States and Europe.
Ecuador is suffering a wave of violence that has caused the murder rate to quadruple between 2018 and 2022. Daniel Noboa, who was sworn in as the country’s new president on Thursday, has promised to tackle drug trafficking and break the stranglehold the gangs have on the country.
On his first full day in office, he repealed a policy that allowed for the possession of small amounts of drugs, arguing that it had encouraged micro-trafficking in schools and “created an entire generation of drug-addicted children”.