Colombian drug gang the Rastrojos may now control almost all the drug trafficking routes in Ecuador, shipping their product to Mexican groups like the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, according to reports.
El Comercio reports that, according to police intelligence, the Rastrojos dominate almost all routes for trafficking drugs through Ecuador, and are working to control the routes through Esmeraldas, on the Pacific coast, and Carchi and Sucumbios, on the border with Colombia.
According to the report, the Rastrojos send drug shipments by sea from Ecuador's ports to Mexican groups like the Gulf Cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel, and the Zetas.
The Rastrojos' main operating bases in Ecuador are in Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, an inland province to the northwest of the country, and Manabi, on the Pacific coast.
InSight Crime Analysis
Juan Carlos Calle Serna (pictured), brother of the leaders of the Rastrojos, was captured in Quito last month. He was likely residing there in part to avoid pressure from the Colombian authorities. However, the reports on the Rastrojos’ operations in Ecuador indicate that the country is far more than just a safehouse for the Colombian organization’s leaders. Indeed, Calle Serna was reportedly tasked with managing the organization's foreign contacts.
Rastrojos bosses Luis Enrique and Javier Antonio Calle Serna have allegedly been negotiating a surrender deal with the US. However, if the Rastrojos do now control the majority of the drug trade through Ecuador, this suggests that the brothers would be giving up an extremely powerful network, and that the US would need to offer them substantial concessions in order to make a deal.
The reports that Ecuador's drug routes are controlled by a Colombian gang point to the fact that the country's drug trade is dominated by foreign organizations. The Sinaloa Cartel is thought to have a presence there, as is the organization of Colombian trafficker Daniel "El Loco" Barrera. An recent assessment by the Ecuadorean military reportedly found that three of the four main entry points for drugs lay on the Colombian border, while the main exit points were all on the Pacific coast.