HomeNewsBriefMapping Gun Smuggling Routes in Ecuador
BRIEF

Mapping Gun Smuggling Routes in Ecuador

ECUADOR / 17 SEP 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

Police investigators in Ecuador, long a source of arms for Colombian guerrillas, say that the routes used by gun runners stretch across the country, with most weapons entering via the southern border with Peru.

According to an investigation by El Comercio, Ecuadorean police have identified the main routes used by arms traffickers in the country to smuggle guns to armed groups in Colombia. Although the country has been identified as a major source of weapons and explosives for guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), police say that these arms generally originate from farther south, in Peru.

As the map to the right illustrates, police believe most of these guns enter the country through the southern provinces of El Oro and La Loja. Hotspots on the southern border include the cantons (sub-provincial territories) of Huaquillas and Macara.

From there, weapons are smuggled in vehicles north to cities like Quevedo and El Empalme, where they are stored in safe houses. Traffickers then take them to the capital city of Quito, where they are sold to intermediaries working on behalf of guerrillas or drug traffickers. They are then shipped north, and cross into Colombia from northern border towns like Tulcan, Carchi and San Lorenzo, Esmeraldas. 

InSight Crime AnalysisTráfico de armas Ecuador

Ecuador has attempted to crack down on arms trafficking, seizing weapons in over 39 separate operations from January 2010 to August 2012, according to El Comercio. But as the recent arrest of a FARC gun runner outside of Quito shows, smuggling routes remains open. Arms traffickers in the country have developed techniques to operate undetected, prefering to move guns in small numbers and taking care to make sales through trusted middlemen. 

One obstacle to cracking down on the illegal arms trade is the impressive profit associated with it. Ecuadorean police say that a FN FAL rifle, which could cost some $5,000 in Quito, can be bought for less than half of that ($2,000) on the southern border.

During 2012 the government of Ecuador has focused on securing its northern border with Colombia, sending 10,000 troops to the region in January and capturing a high-level FARC operative there in May. However evidence suggests that the porous southern border with Peru is just as important for the arms trade, where police themselves have admitted they are incapable of stopping the flow of guns alone.

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 / 6 OCT 2016

Colombia's surprise rejection of a peace agreement between the government and the hemisphere's longest-running insurgency could push rebel factions to…

ARGENTINA / 29 JAN 2021

While unrest gripped much of Latin America in 2019, it was the coronavirus that took center stage and ripped through…

COLOMBIA / 14 JUN 2017

Colombia's flourishing illegal gold mining business requires explosives, many of which are sourced illicitly. This essential yet overlooked trade has…

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…