Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Ecuador: Legislator condemns candidates linked to drug traffickers

QUITO ( Associated Press) — Complaints against 21 mayoral candidates in several Ecuadorian cities for alleged links to drug trafficking have reached the prosecutor’s office, on the initiative of a legislator. The chairman of the Oversight Commission of the National Assembly assured that he provided information on the financing and links to drug trafficking and other illegal activities of the candidates who participated in the local elections in February this year.

In a press conference, legislator Fernando Villavicencio stressed that a large part of the political system and political organizations in Ecuador “are corrupted by the resources of a criminal structure linked to illegal mining, drug trafficking and corruption.” He said its operators do not work in isolation but are “part of the same criminal structure”.

He said that he and other legislators have received numerous threats to silence their condemnation of these irregularities, but “we prefer to show our face and pass this information on to the state attorney general’s office.”

Among those he condemned, Villavicencio highlighted Edius Solis, the candidate for mayor of San Lorenzo on the border with Colombia, an area that has become a gateway for cocaine from that country to Ecuador and a hotbed for drug trafficking. The dedicated Colombian guerrilla is the center of the dissident operation. , , according to the legislator.

Regarding the political woman, she insisted in an interview with the Associated Press that as of 2017 her annual tax return was $1,200 and now she has $240,000. that he has not been able to justify the increase in wealth and that he also acts like “Pablo Escobar (Colombian drug trafficker)”. She gives money to people in the city who come to her with financial difficulties and appears in photos on her social networks with copious amounts of dollars, possibly at her home, according to Villavicencio.

The prosecutor’s office, the unit in charge of investigating and launching legal proceedings for crimes, acknowledged to the Associated Press that it was not conducting ex officio investigations around those pointed out by Villavicencio. After the complaint of the MLA, he told that two files will be opened.

The complainant pointed to Holger Manjares, a candidate for mayor of the city of Atacames, in the province of Esmeraldas, in the north of the country, for allegedly receiving campaign financing of illegal origin. Villavicencio assured that the ambitious mayor receives contributions to the production of election campaign materials and that he maintains ties with the close circle of Ecuadorian Enrique Portocarrero, the Ecuadorian drug trafficker who was arrested in Spain in late November and wanted by the United States.

Among the 18 politicians denounced before the prosecutor’s office is Rommel Cedeno, a candidate from the city of Tosagua, who is under police investigation for being part of a drug-criminal structure and in charge of creating a runway for drugs. are accused. Plane with hard-to-reach places and lots of vegetation in Manabi province on the central coast of Ecuador.

The MLA who filed the complaint assured that all the documents related to these irregularities were given to the United States Embassy three weeks back.

The Associated Press has unsuccessfully tried to locate the people named by Villavicencio. The National Electoral Council, the governing body for the calling of sectional elections in February, was consulted about the status of the three candidates identified in the complaint, but said it would not rule as the complaint had entered the investigation stage. Nor, the body pointed out, can they provide information about the candidates since they do not know who the accused are, nor is it their responsibility to provide the information.

In early December, President Guillermo Lasso declared that Ecuador faced not only drug trafficking, but also organized crime and narcopolitics, and announced that he would condemn candidates who represented these activities. Huh. Despite the announcement, no complaint has been formally registered by the government in this regard. Villavicencio said he would meet with the president and ask him about the information he said.

Ecuador is preparing to go to sectional elections on February 5 that will renew mayors of 221 municipalities in the country, among them prefects as well as mayors of the country’s most important cities, Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. (governor) of 24 provinces, among other minor dignities.

Ecuador, according to the official thesis, has become an area for the storage and export of drugs, especially cocaine, to the United States, Europe and other destinations. Police seized 202 tonnes of the drug last year.

Due to disputes over control of export routes and drug distribution zones, Ecuadorian prisons have been the scene of violent riots for more than two years, with more than 130 killings among prisoners last year and 316 deaths in 2021.

Nation World News Desk
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