HomeNewsBriefEcuador Case Highlights Effect of Land Theft on Urban Poor
BRIEF

Ecuador Case Highlights Effect of Land Theft on Urban Poor

ECUADOR / 18 MAR 2014 BY SETH ROBBINS EN

More than 2,000 working-class families in an Ecuador slum were tricked into buying small plots of land that were never for sale, in an example of a regional crime that strongly affects rural areas but can also have a major impact in cities.

During the past few years, the already crowded Pacific port city of Guayaquil has drawn masses of people to outlying towns, according to El Telegrafo. The new arrivals are often sold small plots of land, sometimes with makeshift homes, by fraudsters who have no claim to it, officials say.

In the Monte Sinai sector in the northeast of the city, one man was recently arrested for defrauding 2,400 families, reported El Comercio. The case is not unique: Julio Cesar Quiñonez, secretary for the prevention of illegal settlements, said land traffickers had affected nearly 19,000 families in that sector. He also said there were 103 people in Ecuador being prosecuted for land fraud, Ecuadorinmediato.com reported.

Quiñonez and his office have spearheaded changes to the penal code to make it easier for authorities to go after land hustlers and ensure that people who were defrauded are compensated for their losses.

InSight Crime Analysis

While land theft in Latin America is often linked to eco-trafficking and agriculture, small urban plots can also be vulnerable. In the case of Guayaquil’s slums, it seems to be in part the product of a state ill-equipped to deal with the large influx of people to the city. However, the government has made clear attempts to rectify the problem, creating the irregular settlements office a few years ago.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Eco-Trafficking

Land trafficking and theft remain stubborn issues in other countries as well. It is especially prevalent in Guatemala, which recorded 1,400 cases of the crime in 2013.  Nicaragua too has been affected, and in January, a man was arrested as part of a group that organized illegal land sales and invasions in the country's main forest reserve

The crime is often facilitated by corrupt officials and businessmen. In Argentina, a criminal group was recently accused of stealing three properties belonging to a deceased painter, while in one case in Guatemala a property theft ring used government workers to falsify documents

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 11 DEC 2020

The world’s biggest oil trading firm faces a large fine after a multi-country investigation revealed it bribed Brazilian, Mexican and…

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 15 OCT 2020

Zimba the jaguar should not have been there. The biologist recognized it as the same jaguar she had ordered to…

COLOMBIA / 21 MAR 2014

Transnational criminal networks in Latin America reportedly make an average of $550,000 a day selling stolen cellular phones, highlighting the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…