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

ECUADOR / 20 FEB 2014

Authorities in Ecuador say two large cocaine seizures off the country's coast belonged to Mexico's Familia Michoacana. However, the fact…

ARGENTINA / 22 JAN 2019

With a worsening crisis in Venezuela, dark days in Nicaragua, an ever more fragile peace process in Colombia, new governments…

ECUADOR / 6 JUN 2013

Drug traffickers have begun shipping cocaine from Ecuador to Brazil, Chile, and Peru, according to the Ecuadorean armed forces, as…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Dirty Money and Tren de Aragua

29 OCT 2021

InSight Crime was delighted to support investigative reporting in the Americas through a workshop with our friends at Connectas, a non-profit journalism initiative that facilitates collaboration…