HomeNewsBriefCrime, Conflict, Illegal Mining Fuel Ecuador Arms Trafficking
BRIEF

Crime, Conflict, Illegal Mining Fuel Ecuador Arms Trafficking

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 13 MAY 2014 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

Illegal mining, Colombian armed criminal groups and common crime are the three main markets for Ecuador’s illegal arms trade, according to authorities, as the black market continues to be a headache for both that country and its neighbor Colombia.

During 2013 and the first three months of 2014, Ecuador’s Armed Forces seized 4,530 illegal firearms, and 457,310 rounds of ammunition, reported El Comercio. An unnamed top police official told the newspaper that some of the weapons entering the country illegally come from the army stores of other countries, while others enter via Ecuadorean ports.

According to the report, the distribution and sale of weapons on Ecuador’s black market is largely managed by local illegal groups, which sell rifles for up to $5,000 each.

Firearms, ammunition and explosives destined for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are also trafficked into Colombia via clandestine routes along the border, according to police intelligence sources cited by El Comercio. In January, Ecuador made what was reportedly its largest ever seizure of arms destined for Colombian rebel groups, reported ANDES.

In a more recent operation, Ecuadorean police seized handguns and high-caliber weapons belonging to 10 individuals suspected of involvement in assaulting armed vehicles used for money transfer and financial institutions.

In 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, around 60 percent of the country’s 2,097 registered murders were committed using a firearm.

InSight Crime Analysis

The main buyers of the illegal arms that move through Ecuador are believed to be the 29th and 48th fronts of the FARC’s Southern Bloc, which are active along the shared border. In addition to getting cheap arms supplies, including explosives, from Ecuador, the Colombian rebels also use the neighboring territory as a weapons production center.

Colombian criminal groups known as the BACRIM (from the Spanish abbreviation for “criminal bands”) have also expanded their influence in Ecuador in recent years, and likely participate in the arms trade. If, as the police suggest, a main destination for arms is illegal mining in Ecuador, this raises the possibility that armed groups such as the guerrillas, the BACRIM or even homegrown organized crime groups are involved in these operations, which have been indentified near the Colombian border.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Ecuador

As noted by the police, a common source of weapons is corrupt members of the security forces. The spokesperson laid the blame on foreign institutions, but there have also been cases of army members from Ecuador caught arms trafficking.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 10 NOV 2016

Colombia's internal drug market has grown over the past few decades and is now worth an estimated $2 billion, a…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 6 MAY 2011

The debate over a United States gun trafficking probe known as Operation Fast and Furious is heating up, and the…

ARGENTINA / 20 JAN 2015

Authorities in Colombia have captured a man they said was the main Argentina-based connection for Colombian organized crime, who is…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…