HomeNewsBriefLax Controls Leave Ecuador’s Ports Vulnerable to Drug Trafficking
BRIEF

Lax Controls Leave Ecuador’s Ports Vulnerable to Drug Trafficking

ECUADOR / 25 NOV 2013 BY NATALIE SOUTHWICK EN

A lack of oversight in Ecuador’s ports on the part of both private companies and the government has left maritime routes open for drug traffickers, contributing to the country’s growth as a transshipment point for overseas trafficking.

According to experts, Ecuador’s ports are the country’s main weak point in terms of combating drug trafficking, reported El Comercio. More than 712,000 containers leave Ecuador’s ports destined for other countries annually, but very few of them pass through basic inspections before leaving the country.

One contributor to the problem is insufficient measures taken by export companies themselves, said Diego Castillo, executive director of the Pichincha chapter of the Business Alliance for Secure Commerce. According to Castillo, less than 10 percent of the 3,000 companies exporting products from Ecuador have implemented security measures such as cargo inspections.

The government has also shown a limited ability to monitor outgoing cargo. A joint European Union and Ameripol report released in September identified the ports of Guayaquil, Manta (Manabi province) and Puerto Bolivar (El Oro) as especially vulnerable to drug trafficking, reported El Universal. According to the national anti-drug office, only 4.5 percent of containers leaving Ecuador’s ports receive a physical inspection.

This year, authorities have seized more than 20 tons of drugs in Guayaquil alone, accounting for about 38 percent of the 53 tons seized countrywide so far in 2013.

InSight Crime Analysis

Ecuador’s ports have become a hotspot for cocaine seizures, with more than 12 tons seized within two months during the second half of 2013. Traffickers appear to be increasingly using Ecuador as a maritime transshipment point, exporting large quantities of drugs to Brazil, Chile and Peru, as well as Europe.

See Also: Coverage of Ecuador

The drug trade in Ecuador is largely fueled by transnational organizations, including Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, as well as Colombian groups. Many of the recently seized shipments have been attributed to these groups, and the Urabeños appear to be expanding their influence in the country. At the same time, micro-trafficking networks appear to be increasingly active in major cities, suggesting a potential uptick in domestic demand.

Weak port security is an issue in other Latin American drug transit hubs such as Peru and Argentina. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Container Control Programme, less than 2 percent of the 500 million containers shipped around the world each year are inspected.

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

ECUADOR / 4 NOV 2013

More than 400 Ecuadorean police officers have been detained for suspected criminal activity, as attempts to reform chronically corrupt law…

ECUADOR / 25 APR 2011

The arrest of a Colombian drug lord, leader of the little-known gang "La Cordillera," has shed light on the group's…

DRUG POLICY / 30 OCT 2019

Little attention is paid to Ecuador. The murder rate is low, and there are no drug cartels like those that…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

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. …