HomeNewsBriefWill Ecuador Extortion Rise with Growth of International Organized Crime?
BRIEF

Will Ecuador Extortion Rise with Growth of International Organized Crime?

ECUADOR / 5 FEB 2014 BY MIRIAM WELLS EN

Prosecutors in Ecuador are investigating a wave of extortions believed to have been carried out by the same criminal group, raising the question of what effect the growing presence of transnational organized crime will have on local criminal activities.

Between September and December of 2013, Quito authorities received 75 reports of extortion committed by one group, reported El Comercio. The modus operandi of the group was to make threatening phone calls to victims to convince them to hand over large sums of money using transfer services. Up to 300 other victims were targeted last year, prosecutor Jose Luis Jaramillo told La Hora.

One victim was contacted after publishing a notice offering a reward for anyone who found her pet. The extortionists had information about how many children she had and what time she arrived and left work. She gave them $300 after being threatened. Another victim was told that the criminals had a “personal” video of him, and it would be handed over to his wife unless he paid $500.

The 75 victims between September and December were called from 60 different telephone numbers, one of which was traced to a SIM card found in a Quito jail.

On February 4, the Armed Forces in the major port city of Guayaquil also announced they had detained five Marines — one sergeant, three corporals and a sailor — who were being investigated by prosecutors after being accused of extortion, reported El Comercio.

InSight Crime Analysis

Extortion is a mainstay of criminal groups across Latin America — it is a practice that brings in millions and serves as a primary form of income for street gangs in countries including Guatemala, El Salvador and Colombia.

Ecuador has a very different criminal landscape than that of many of its neighbors. It is historically a safer country, with no major domestic criminal organizations. As such, extortion has not been a major problem, and even fell from 246 cases in 2011 to 167 cases in 2012.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Extortion

Nonetheless, the recent cases illustrate the crime does persist. The telephone threats follow typical Latin American extortion patterns, as does the fact that one call was traced to a prison. The possible number of additional victims noted by prosecutor Jaramillo also indicates the crime may be significantly underreported.

As foreign criminal drug trafficking organizations — particularly from Colombia — continue to establish themselves in Ecuador, this type of crime may start to increase, as seems to be happening with microtrafficking in the country. However, homicide rates dropped to a nine-year low during 2013, suggesting the presence of transnational crime is not yet bringing the same ills that it has elsewhere in the region.

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

EL SALVADOR / 26 APR 2019

El Salvador’s groundbreaking "Operación Jaque" (Operation Check) has provided a wealth of information on the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13), revealing the…

EXTORTION / 31 MAR 2016

Business leaders in Acapulco are calling for a peace pact among citizens, the government and organized crime leaders, a desperate…

ARGENTINA / 22 JAN 2019

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

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…