Quito: Ecuadorian authorities have arrested 2,174 people, 158 of them on “terrorism” charges, since President Daniel Noboa declared an “internal armed conflict” on January 9 and mobilied the army to combat organised crime linked to drug trafficking, the National Police said.
Authorities have since carried out 23,610 operations, including 61 “against terrorist groups”, the National Police said in a post on X on Thursday.
Five members of criminal organisations were killed, it said, adding that authorities seized more than 6 tons of illicit drugs and substantial amounts of firearms, knives, explosives, ammunition and mobile phones.
Police and soldiers also raided two prisons in search of weapons and other banned items smuggled in by inmates with ties to criminal rings.
Riots erupted on January 8 in several prisons after authorities confirmed the escape of a drug trafficking kingpin from a jail in the southwestern coastal city of Guayaquil.
The unrest spread to several cities in the country the following day, when criminal gangs unleashed a series of violent moves including attacks, armed assaults, car bombings and police kidnappings.
More than 100 prison guards and officials who had been taken hostage by rioting inmates were released last week.
In response to the escalation of violence unleashed by criminal organisations, Ecuador has been under a state of emergency since January 8 for 60 days, and a nighttime curfew is in effect.
Under the declaration of “internal armed conflict”, 22 criminal gangs were classified as “terrorist organizations,” and the armed forces were granted broad powers to combat organised crime, especially in prisons.